Falcon Heights Elementary kids ditch the bus to walk to school


Nearly 600 kids, parents and teachers walked to Falcon Heights Elementary School on May 4 for Walk & Bike to School Day.

Minnesota Vikings mascot Viktor the Viking supplied high fives — a popular request from kids was to see him do a dance move called dabbing.

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith spoke to parents and kids at Falcon Heights Elementary, after finishing the three-quarters of a mile walk with Roseville Area Schools Superintendent Aldo Sicoli.

Mike Munzenrider

news editor

 

The line of Falcon Heights Elementary School students, parents and teachers walking to school the morning of May 4 stretched a full three-quarters of a mile.

The kids and adults, along with Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, Roseville Area Schools Superintendent Aldo Sicoli and Minnesota Vikings mascot Viktor the Viking — albeit on a fancy purple Segway — were taking part in Walk & Bike to School Day.

The day coincided with some 4,000 events taking place in all 50 states, along with walks to school in 40 countries.

District 623 schools Harambee Elementary and Emmet D. Williams Elementary also held events. Organizing the walk to Falcon Heights Elementary was Kim Kelly, the district’s Statewide Health Improvement Program safe routes to school/active classroom facilitator.

Kelly estimated some 590 people took part in the walk to the school, which started at Bruce Russell Park near Roseville Lutheran Church. Officers from the Roseville and St. Anthony Village police departments provided traffic control.

Even before the mass of people took off from the staging area, where buses and parents dropped off kids for the event, it was receiving high ratings.

“It’s really good for students who normally don’t have a chance to walk,” said Jack, a 10-year-old fourth-grader, though he lamented he wasn’t allowed to ride his scooter that day.

Will, another fourth -grader, was similarly pleased with the plan. “It just makes me happy.” 

The goal of Walk & Bike to School Day is to make safer routes for kids to bike and walk to school, while emphasizing issues like kids exercising, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, concern for the environment and building connections between families, schools and the community.

Kids high-fived Viktor the Viking as they poured off buses, and before long, the mascot zipped off to head up the line of people on its way to school.

Along the route, which followed Roselawn Avenue to Hamline Avenue, Hamline to Garden Avenue and Garden to school, friends Sumaya and Carmelah chatted as they walked.

Carmelah, 12 and in sixth grade, said they both usually ride the bus. 

“I’d rather walk,” said 10-year-old Sumaya, who is in fifth grade, after she thought it over.

Speakers blasted music as the group arrived at Falcon Heights Elementary — one girl exclaimed, “I made it!” as she walked towards the school’s front door to the theme from “Rocky.”

On the walk back to her car at Bruce Russell Park, parent Jessica Brekke said she normally drives her kids, Charlie and Gabby Welsch, who are in sixth and fourth grades, respectively, to school.

Brekke had walked with Gabby, she said, and had used the day as an opportunity to begin letting Charlie bike to school. 

The family lives near Lake Como and Brekke said Charlie would ride the 30 minutes to school through the end of the school year, linking up with a friend at the halfway point.

“It’s the kickoff of that freedom,” Brekke said, noting that Charlie was quite excited. Bike & Walk to School Day offered her the opportunity, she said. “I thought: Let’s do it.”

 

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.

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