Walking to school by the dawn's early light

With Alaskan days getting darker, wetter and colder Soldotna elementary school students took to the streets for the annual Walk to School Day, “It’s an exciting day for all of us,” said KPBSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Atwater as families gathered at the Soldotna Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church, “Soldotna Elementary, Soldotna Montessori and Redoubt all had walk to school events today. It’s a great way to get kids out putting focus on wellness and physical activities of our students and also to bring the community together to increase awareness of driving safely in the early morning hours as our kids are on their way to school, I very much appreciate the coordination efforts that KPBSD staff takes to make this day a success,” he said. Atwater joined Borough Mayor Mike Navarre and Sharon Hale in passing out reflector buttons to increase the walker’s visibility, “Anything the kids and parents can do when walking to be more visible is helpful, reflective tape on clothes and shoes, carry a small flashlight, anything that helps to alert drivers to their presence is helpful,” suggested Atwater.

Families, students, and staff from the three schools participated in the annual Walk to School Day along with members of police and fire departments, and other community members.

John Pothast, principal at Redoubt Elementary said his school has participated in the annual walk for several years. “I most appreciate this event because it highlights the importance of safety for our students who walk to school,” he said. “We always have the fire department with their trucks, and the police to highlight our students walking to school to encourage our greater community to be very aware of our students who are out and about on our streets and sidewalks. Our hope is that drivers will be extra cautious when driving and watch out for the safety of everyone who walk and ride bikes or scooters in our community!”

More than 225 students and parents joined the trek to Redoubt and Soldotna Elementary then packed the gym after the walk for hot cocoa, juice, muffins, and door prizes including bike helmets. Soldotna Elementary and Montessori schools share a building and walked together.

“This is our second year at Soldotna Elementary. We are happy to be working with Jane Fellman and SafeKids to create awareness about safe practices for kids when they are walking to school or playing afterwards. Our goal is to keep kids safe and healthy,” said Teri Diamond, Soldotna Elementary principal. According to official’s participation more than doubled for this years walk. Schools in Seward also plan a walk to school day each year however, some schools in rural neighborhoods like Tustumena Elementary do not, due to the school location, growing darkness, and active bears in the area. Parents can get free reflective tape for kid’s jackets by contacting Jane Fellman with CPH Safe Kids at 907-714-4539 or email safekids@cpgh.org