HURLEY — Elementary and middle school students from the Hurley K-12 School took a different route to school Tuesday, participating in the school’s first Walk to School Day.
Students, parents, teachers and staff members lined up at Super One parking lot in Hurley and walked west on Center Drive, dressed in Hawaiian shirts, leis and other tropical garb. There was music and officers from the Iron County Sheriff’s Department and Hurley Police Department escorted the walkers along the route.
“Everything’s good,” elementary guidance counselor Marcy Kusz said. “Buses dropped kids off right in the parking lot, and we had students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade participate.”
After walking, students and other participants dined on a Hawaiian-themed breakfast. Kusz hopes to hold more of these events. She thanked local businesses and organizations that helped make the event possible.
“Thanks to the Hurley PTO for providing leis for all of the students,” Kusz said. “It was great to see faculty and staff members participate, even high school teachers.”
The event also helped raise awareness of the Safe Routes to School initiative the school district and local residents have begun. According to Mark Fedora, chairman of the Safe Routes committee, the goal is to connect a safe route from the school to parks and a proposed regional biking trail.
“We would like to create a biking trail from Riccelli Park to the school,” Fedora said. “In September, we’ll be looking at routes that will have the least amount of impact, with the shortest distance for students.”
Michigan is working on a trail system stretching from Detroit to Ironwood. Locally, the goal is to expand the trail into Wisconsin.
“We’re just working from Wakefield to Kimball on our end,” Fedora said. “Hurley, Montreal and Kimball are on board. This is also part of the Iron County recreation plan, as well.”
Will Andresen, of the Iron County University of Wisconsin-Extension office, has been applying for grants to fund the project. So far, funds of have been achieved for the Michigan side to access railroad grades and pave portions of the trail.
In Wisconsin, decisions on grants won’t be announced until the fall of 2014.
“Hopefully, we will then be able to start construction in fall 2015,” Fedora said.
As for Walk to School Day, both Fedora and Andresen liked what they saw.
“It’s great to see kids, parents and teachers participating in this,” Andresen said. “This is a model for great behavior.”
For more information on Safe Routes to School, contact Fedora at 715-561-5389.