Lafayette elementary school students honor RTD

The reason dozens of third graders assembled Friday at Pioneer Elementary School was stacked on a table inside the gym: dozens of gold envelopes, each containing a drawing or hand-written message of thanks to members of the military, employees of a local animal sanctuary – and RTD.

Children at the bilingual school in Lafayette are honoring essential workers – those who work in industries such as health care, food service and public transportation – this month as part of a focus brought by counselor Ella Padilla. Classrooms across multiple grades recognized different groups of workers with their notes and artwork.

“We’ve always told them to be kind to everyone, especially those that are essential workers,” Padilla said. Before presenting the envelopes and certificates this week, she told the students: “Your drawings were beautiful. They are really going to enjoy them.”

Accepting the items on RTD’s behalf were Transportation Operating Division Manager Daniel Seifert and Steve Krat, a 14-year bus operator for RTD who has received more than 120 commendations for his service and is a past Operator of the Year. Seifert said the children’s notes will be displayed for RTD’s operators to enjoy.

“I like the message that they’re getting out to their kids, that kindness is really important,” Seifert said. “It’s a message that we try to get out to our operators as well. I love that the leadership here at the school is putting action to it, so these kids are learning that being kind to the adults in their lives is important.”

Krat, whom RTD customers may recognize on their trips to and from Denver International Airport, said he was honored to attend Friday’s event and to represent his fellow operators.

“My goal is to make my small pocket universe around me about 2% nicer as much as I can,” Krat said. The best way to do that, he added, is to believe that “I’m going to have a great day, and I’m going to do that by helping others have a great day, too.”

After the students watched a short video of RTD’s General Manager and CEO, Debra A. Johnson, introducing the agency’s People Who Move People campaign, Padilla reminded them: “RTD is not just the bus drivers. It’s the managers, and it’s the mechanics and the people who clean the buses, everybody. A lot of people help RTD, and we are thankful for all of them.”