A Win for Safety: Queens Catholic School Students Get Speed Bump Installed

Steven Schlosser and Tatiana Lamadrid, two eighth-graders involved in the installation of a speed bump outside their school. (Photo: Alicia Venter)

ELMHURST — Tatiana Lamadrid is always a little careful when it comes time to be picked up after school. For years, the eighth grade student at St. Adalbert Catholic Academy had to be, especially after she was nearly hurt when getting into her dad’s car.

“A car came fast, not being aware of his surroundings, and I almost got hit,” she said.

Safety became a serious concern at St. Adalbert Catholic Academy, where the simple act of getting in the car after school had become dangerous, as cars zipped up the hilly street and nearly hit students. 

So, when it came time to begin an annual service project, Lamadrid’s teacher pitched an idea to the class: to have a speed bump installed on the street in front of the school.

The process began in October, and by March, the speed bump was installed on 83rd Street between Grand Avenue and 54th Avenue.

“They’ve created a legacy. Everyone is going to remember the class of 2024 because they protected the school, and that’s a good thing,” said Michele Cardona, the eighth grade teacher whose class spearheaded the project. “It’s a physical culmination of their desire for the school to be left safer.”

While many students had experienced near-misses at the school during dismissal, the worst was at the beginning of this school year, when eighth grade student Saoirse Timmons nearly had a car slam into her. Cardona watched it happen, and that’s when the idea came to reach out to the Department of Transportation (DOT) about a speed bump. 

All the public schools nearby had speed bumps outside their doors, which were often accompanied by a lower school zone speed limit, she noticed. Her students were immediately excited by the prospect and began the application process to have the DOT install a speed bump on their street. 

To their surprise, the letter they received in response from the city was that “the location did not meet criteria at this time.”

“Every public school in our area has a speed bump in front of it. They all have signs that say it’s a school zone and to drive this many miles an hour [slower]. We thought we were being left out of that just because we are a Catholic school,” eighth grader Steven Schlosser said. 

Instead of accepting the initial determination by the DOT, Cardona’s class decided to push back. They sent a letter responding to the city, describing how they were certain the road fit the criteria for reduced speed, and they cited a collision that had happened that year between a car and a cyclist. 

The DOT responded soon after, reversing their initial decision and saying that “installation will take place when resources are available.”
The efforts made St. Adalbert principal Thomas Morris proud, because he had noticed their exceptional leadership and devotion to service all year.

“Wanting to improve the quality of the school and the area is really admirable,” he said.

These days, from their classrooms, St. Adalbert students can hear the results of the installation of the speed bump they championed. They notice the sounds of tires screeching on the pavement as they come in contact with the speed bump, and see the scuffs on it from the cars that hit it too quickly. 

This happened more often when the speed bump was first installed, Schlosser noticed, because it had not yet been painted.

“Now, people are more cautious, watching kids going into the street. The speed bump causes them to slow down, and we’re really happy we put it into action because it’s now getting safer,” Lamadrid added.

Even though the eighth grade students only experienced the benefits of the speed bump for a few months, they feel pride in the legacy they leave behind. 

“All the students come back to visit, but we’re not in the school anymore, and it’s a good way to keep our remembrance in the school. We did a big thing for the school,” Schlosser said.