By Barbara Wood
Woodside was transformed for about 45 minutes Wednesday, Oct. 26, as a good portion of the more than 500 pre-school to eighth-grade students at Woodside Elementary School celebrated their second annual Walk-to-School Day by walking, riding bikes or even skateboarding to school.
Sheriff's deputies on motorcycles, in cars and on foot helped to slow traffic and make sure streets could be crossed safely as students converged on the school from every direction.
Preschoolers on tiny bicycles joined older students chattering away as they hauled their wheeled backpacks on the town's trails, which are shared by horses and pedestrians. Horses pastured on Canada Road watched as the students passed by.
Many of the students walked in large pedestrian "school buses" that came through the Glens, on Canada, Miramontes, Mountain Home and Tripp roads. With parents guarding their flanks, groups of students were "picked up" by the bus at scheduled stops along the way.
Tillie Nessi, 9, a fourth-grader who lives in the Woodside Glens was there with her mom, Pam. Tillie's dad, Chad, grew up in the Glens and used to ride his bike or skateboard to school every day.
Tillie and her mom walk with a group of friends every Tuesday. "I feel like unless they're in a pack, it's not safe," Pam Nessi said.
Jessica Hope walked with her 8- and 10-year olds from Godetia Drive, more than two miles away. They'd walk more often, Ms. Hope said, except that they would have to get up at least 25 minutes earlier to make it to school on time.
Devon Morehead and her two sons walked with a group of about a dozen kids from Mountain Home Road. Her sons, in eighth and fifth grades, ride their bikes to school most days, Ms. Morehead said.
Millo Fenzi, chair of Woodside's bicycle committee, spearheaded the Walk-to-School event, which he said is a "win" for all involved.
"It's good for the environment. It's good for the kids' health. It's good for the parents' health," he said.
Last year, a kindergarten teacher told him it was also good for classroom order, because her students arrived with some energy already burned off.
Mr. Fenzi has been working with Woodside's Trails Committee to make the towns many trails safer so more students can get to school on foot, since Woodside has no sidewalks.
The town has improved streets in the Glens to allow more room for walkers and also improved trails along Canada, Kings Mountain and Mountain Home roads, all of which are used by many pedestrians. Currently the town is working to improve the trail that cuts behind the Canada Corners shopping area from Canada to Woodside Road, Mr. Fenzi said.