Students join teachers, staff in yearly event


Willow Drive Elementary School Principal Liz Compton walked to school Wednesday.

"I enjoyed it," she said. "This is my first time participating in Walk to School Day. At High Hills, we had 19 buses. Here we have two. This is a neighborhood school."

Compton was previously principal at High Hills Elementary School.

Willow Drive was one of four schools in Sumter to participate in International Walk to School Day, "a global event where communities from (more than) 40 countries walk and bike to school on a single day," according to The other schools were Oakland Primary, Pocalla Springs Elementary and Wilder Elementary.

Statewide, more than 194 schools and more than 78,000 students, parents, educators and neighbors were expected to participate, according to the department.

"International Walk to School Day encourages students to be more active," said Denise Robinson, teacher. "It reminds them of the benefits of walking or riding their bikes to school."

Along the way, Compton noted conditions her students regularly encounter as far as high grass, poor lighting and litter. Parents who participated were encouraged to fill out surveys including any concerns they had, said Debbie Francis, another Willow Drive educator, and Compton said she would follow up on the responses to see what could be done.

Once students reached the school, Compton asked them if they enjoyed walking to school. She received a resounding "yes."

"It was fun getting out to exercise and showing respect for the principal by following the rules," said Ty Mitchell, a fourth-grader and vice president of student council.

Normally, he rides in a car, but he said he'd consider walking to school again.

Fifth-grader Mikaela Baker agreed she'd do it again, too.

"I liked it," said the student council secretary and treasurer. "It was fun to walk with my friends."

Reach Jade Anderson at (803) 774-1250.



- SC Safe Routes to School Resource Center,

- International Walk to School in the US,

- National Center for Safe Routes to School,

- International Walk to School,