Kalaheo walking school bus fills Pu‘u Road

KALAHEO — Clyde Vito, site manager of the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, said next time he’ll probably open up more parking areas.

Children and parents filled the outer parking lot used for the county’s Park and Ride program as more than 200 students from Kalaheo Elementary School inaugurated its walking school bus program.

Coinciding with the fourth Wednesday of each month being Walk to School Day, Kalaheo School is the latest to join the network of schools encouraging walking to school.

“We have Kaua‘i Police Department officers working at the Kapa‘a Elementary School and at Kilauea Elementary School which started its walking school bus program during the August Walk to School Day,” said Jenn Bloom, the Walk to School coordinator. “Kekaha Elementary School has expressed an interest, but the October event will probably be St. Catherine’s School in Kapa‘a who already can see the positive impact of the walking school bus.”

Bev Brody, the Kaua‘i coordinator for Get Fit Kaua‘i, was thrilled about the area used for student drop-offs at Kalaheo School.

“Did you see that?” she asked in her inimitable enthusiastic fashion. “The attendants look like the Maytag repairmen. There are that few cars. Normally, that area is filled with cars stacked up waiting to drop off students.”

Erik Burkman, the Kalaheo School principal, said when the cafeteria is filled, there are about 500 students. Based on the capacity, Wednesday, he estimated about 250 students participated in the walk.

“We had 152 students signed up by Tuesday night,” said Pat Gegen, the Kalaheo School walk coordinator. “And then, there was a bunch who just came so yes, there has to be about 200 to 250 students.”

With the parking lot at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center overflowing, the walking school bus started under the supervision of KPD Lt. Mark Scribner, the group walking up Papalina Road to Pu‘u Road, turning down Pu‘u to the school.

Scribner noted that other schools should be doing their Walk to School Day programs with the exception of Koloa Elementary School where there are no improvements in the Walk to School route.

“This is invigorating,” Burkman said, slowly pronouncing the word so students could learn it for their vocabulary, the exercise being reinforced when Brody led the cafeteria with morning exercises to further invigorate the young bodies.

Cory Goias-Soares was named the winner of the bicycle giveaway by state Rep. Dee Morikawa, D-16th District, who joined the group.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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