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Staff, students, parents and pets walked to Fisher Elementary School Wednesday morning, in honor of National Walk to School Day. (Elizabeth Conkey)
Staff, students, parents and pets walked to Fisher Elementary School Wednesday morning, in honor of National Walk to School Day. (Elizabeth Conkey)
Staff, students, parents and pets walked to Fisher Elementary School Wednesday morning, in honor of National Walk to School Day. (Elizabeth Conkey)

ARLINGTON -- Despite Wednesday morning's chill, students, staff and parents of students at Fisher Elementary began the day by walking about a mile to school in honor of National Walk to School Day.

According to the National Walk to School Day website, National Walk to School Day was first celebrated in 1997 under the name Walk Our Children to School Day.

It initially began as an event geared to raise awareness about the importance of "walkable" communities in the United States, but has gained substantial popularity since its inception, attracting international interest in more than 40 countries worldwide.

Last year, the first-ever National Bike to School Day was celebrated nationwide on May 8.

About 70 Fisher Elementary students, Pre-K through fifth grade, participated in this year's National Walk to School Day, under the supervision of 13 staff members, family members, and, of course, beloved family pets of all sizes.

"Sense of community"

"We always invite family members to join in this activity," said Fisher Elementary Principal Deanne Lacoste. "Including them adds to the sense of community that we already have here."

Walkers met up at two different points in Arlington at around 7:30 a.m., one group in front of the Federated Church of East Arlington and another in the parking lot of Saint James Episcopal Church in Arlington Center.

En masse, the groups trekked up each of their respective hills before finally congregating in front of Fisher Elementary in a flood of rosy cheeks.

Students who normally ride the bus to school were also able to participate in the celebration by walking laps around Fisher Elementary's soccer field after being dropped-off by school buses.

Fisher Elementary fourth-grade teacher Michelle Tessier said she thinks National Walk to School Day is a great activity from which all students can benefit.

"It's been proven that students do better in the classroom after physical activity," she said. "After this morning's walk, everyone is awake and ready to learn."

Rachel Leard, a second-grade teacher at Fisher concurred, adding that she hopes the celebration inspires students to walk on a more regular basis.

"Not only does something like this build community, but it also promotes a healthy lifestyle," she said.

"I think it went really well. The kids definitely had fun."

According to Lacoste, this year marked the seventh year in a row that Fisher has participated in this activity and they are sure to participate next fall.

To learn more about National Walk to School Day, visit www.walkbiketoschool.org.

Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at econkey@benningtonbanner.com or follow on Twitter @bethconkey.