WALLINGFORD — It was a simple thing, just a smile and a wave, but it made a big difference to Frankie Carbone.
A senior at Sheehan High School, Carbone is a National Honor Society member who has made the honor roll every semester since he was a freshman and has a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. Carbone plays varsity soccer and basketball and takes seven classes, including advance placement biology, statistics and computer science — and works at his father’s construction business for a few hours a week.
It’s a lot of work, and it hasn’t been easy. And Carbone still has the senior prom at the end of the month, then graduation, and will start school all over again this fall as a freshman at Central Connecticut State University, where he will study computer science.
Through all the turbulence of his activities, Carbone has learned that he can count on one happy moment each day.
A smile and a wave from Jim Snedeker.
A 73-year-old crossing guard stationed at Route 68 and Hope Hill Road, Snedeker makes it a point to smile and wave at the students every day as they drive by.
The simple, consistent kindness grew on Carbone.
“Rain or shine, he is always out there,” Carbone said. “Just to get a smile from him, it starts the day off right. That was the gift he gave us.”
So Carbone and other National Honor Society members recognized Snedeker’s contributions to the school community on Friday by giving him $230 in gifts, including a new chair, drinks, candles, and gift cards to local stores, that the students paid for with fundraisers, said Ali Villano, a Sheehan senior and society member.
“It is important to honor people who are just doing a great job of boosting spirits, especially with what is going on with coronavirus,” Villano said. “It was an easy decision for us. As soon as one of us had mentioned the idea, it snowballed.”
Snedeker was touched by the award and was already having a really good day when he got it. His grandaughter had just given birth to a great-grandson. A cancer survivor, Snedeker told the students that his gesture to them was in homage to his wife, who died of cancer 10 years ago, Villano said.
“He said that he imagined waking up to her every morning and seeing her smile and wave, so that is what he tries to do with us every morning,” Carbone said.
The students gave the award as part of a National Honor Society program that recognizes and promotes service, scholarship, leadership and character at Sheehan and in the community, Villano said.
Snedeker was recognized for his good character.
“We were looking for somebody who isn’t necessarily super appreciated, not necessarily recognized for what he does but makes such an impact on people every single day,” Villano said.
The gifts were the students’ way of saying “thank you” for the kindness.