PRYOR, OK —
Pryor Elementary Schools are using National Walk or Bike to School Day to kick off their walking school bus program.
The national holiday raises awareness of the benefits of walking or biking to school. The day's official website explains the activity is fun, creates healthier habits and a cleaner environment, promotes safety and benefits the community.
Pryor Public Schools emphasize health and wellness as part of the curriculum and students know the benefit of getting a little more physical activity. The program reduces the number of cars making trips to school which is good for both the environment and community safety.
Beginning Oct. 9, elementary students, partnered with the Pryor High School Leadership Class, will have the option to walk to school together.
“The high school students have been trained by Officer [Jeremy] Cantrell, Ronnie Neal from Cherokee Nation, Doug Moore and Laura Holloway,” said Evette Barham, teacher of the High School Leadership Class. “We are excited to provide another program that allows students of all ages to work together.”
Parents will be able to drop their child off at a predetermined location. Holloway, the Pryor Public Schools director of health and wellness, said that Lincoln Elementary School students will meet at St. Mark Catholic Church, Jefferson Elementary School students will meet behind Sharpe’s Department Store and Roosevelt Elementary School students will meet behind First Baptist Church, all at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday.
The high school students assigned to that location will then walk the children to school. This walking school bus gives the students a physical activity while also teaching them pedestrian safety.
“Since parents will be dropping their kids off at a offsite location, this will reduce some of the morning traffic in our elementary school zones, which is always a plus,” said Cantrell, the Pryor Police Department's school resource officer.
Cantrell said there will be an increased law enforcement presence during these morning walks.
“The leadership students and adults supervising the walking school bus will have my cell phone number in case they have any issues. The leaders will have safety vests and stop signs,” said Cantrell. “I have personally walked with the Leadership students showing them proper procedures.”
Cantrell said the high school students have had additional training in proper procedures for stopping traffic and allowing students to cross an intersection.
“Citizens who live on these routes have been notified and asked to keep an extra eye out for our students on Walking School Bus Days,” Cantrell said.
“I want to emphasize that we are trying to make this a thing for the whole communuty,” said Holloway. “It’s not just for students.”
Holloway was interviewed by phone from Washington, D.C., where she was attending a summit and advocating for safe walking routes to school. Some of the present routes for Pryor require students to walk across yards because there are no sidewalks, but Holloway said use of the yards have been allowed by the property owners.
“We are working on getting some ODOT (Oklahoma Department of Transportation) funding to build sidewalks,” Holloway said.
For more information interested parents should contact their child's elementary school administrators.