The energy and enthusiasm of something new cut through the cold of the Kekaha morning beneath the spreading boughs of a monkeypod tree outside the Kekaha Neighborhood Center.
The children of St. Theresa School started their first Walk to School Day on Wednesday, aided by four Kauai Police Department officers, Principal Wendy Castillo, and parent volunteers garbed in the Get Fit Kauai, Safe Routes to School safety vests.
“One hundred and forty students,” Castillo said. “That’s our enrollment. They should all be here for this.”
Students crossed Elepaio Road before hitting the sidewalks fronting Amakini Road leading to the school.
“This is the farthest western walk to school day in the country,” said Lee Steinmetz, who along with Bev Brody of Get Fit Kauai accompanied the group.
Crystal Shimatsu, a St. Theresa School parent and a counselor at Kekaha School, said the distance between St. Theresa and Kekaha School is not that far.
“I would let my son walk (between the two schools), but there are other problems,” she said. “There are strange people, and the drug people you hear about. I’d rather go pick him up.”
Brody and Steinmetz made note of the “stanger danger” concerns.
During the walk, a parent was overheard saying, “Maybe we’ll get bigger sidewalks,” to which Brody pointed out the recently installed sidewalks fronting the Kekaha elderly housing project.
“That’s a Safe Routes to School project,” she said. “Funds for the sidewalk were through a Safe Routes to School grant that the county applied for earlier.”
During the walk, police officers helped slow or stop traffic so the overflow sidewalk traffic could make the short walk safely.
The Walking School Bus was met by other students who arrived via bicycles from routes on the east side of St. Theresa School.
Elementary schools in Kalaheo, Koloa, Kilauea, Kapaa and Lihue also participate in Walk to School Day.
Dennis Fujimoto can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.