Above, clockwise from left, Board Member Kelly Gonez at Panorama City Elementary; Mayor Eric Garcetti at Magnolia Elementary; students from Holmes Middle School; Board Member Nick Melvoin at Mark Twain Middle School; and kids at the Judith F. Baca Arts Academy.
They came on foot and on bicycles, accompanied by parents or hanging out with friends.
During International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, schools across L.A. Unified and districts around the world participated in events that emphasized street safety and efforts to make communities safer for pedestrians.
“Getting every student to school safely is everyone’s business,” said School Board President Mónica García, who joined Mayor Eric Garcetti in walking with kids and parents to Magnolia Elementary School. “We thank families, staff, partners and community leadership that strengthen safe passages so that every child in Los Angeles has the opportunity to read, write, think and believe.”
More than 170 local schools and 45,000 students participated in L.A. Unified events, including Panorama City Elementary School, where Board Member Kelly Gonez walked with students and spoke about pedestrian safety.
“I was so proud to see our students and families enthusiastically participate in Walk to School Day,” Gonez said. “Our partnership with the city and the implementation of the Safe Routes to School initiative is an example of how collective community collaboration benefits the neighborhoods our schools serve. Walk to School Day is also a wonderful to celebrate healthy habits and bring our neighborhoods together.”
Board Member Nick Melvoin chatted with kids as they walked along Walgrove Avenue to Mark Twain Middle School. He said this year’s Walk to School Day was a great success.
“Walk to School Day is an innovative way to raise awareness for pedestrian safety, and also highlight the fun and healthy benefits of adding exercise to your daily routine,” he said.
School Board Member Scott Schmerelson, School Police Chief Steve Zipperman and Deputy City Attorney Jackie Lawson accompanied about 200 students from Holmes Middle School in Northridge, who carried hand-made banners and signs as they trekked toward campus along Balboa Boulevard.
“What a great morning we all had today walking to school,” Schmerelson said. “Together, with School Police, the City Attorney’s Office, staff, students and parents of Holmes Middle School, we all experienced the fresh air and exercise as we brought awareness to walking safely to school.”
“Parents came out to walk with the kids,” said Holmes Principal Hahn D’Aloisio. “As the kids were walking, people driving by were honking and waving. It was such a great community event. Next year, we’re going to make it even better.”
This was the fourth consecutive year that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation has celebrated the day in partnership with L.A. Unified.
“Every child deserves to grow up in a neighborhood with safe streets and easy access to a quality education,” Garcetti said. “Walking to school helps our kids get the exercise they need, build self-confidence and draw closer to their families, friends, and neighbors. We’re taking action to make sure that those routes to school are as safe as possible for Angelenos of all ages.”
Garcetti was accompanied by Ido Leffler, CEO of school supply company Yoobi, which is donating educational supplies to more than 100,000 District students through its nonprofit partner, the Kids in Need Foundation.
At Judith F. Baca Arts Academy, so many students walked to school that East 89th Street – normally jammed with traffic in the early morning – was virtually empty, and only a few vehicles passed though the valet drop-off area in front of the elementary school.
Student safety became a critical issue last year after a second-grader was knocked to the ground by an impatient driver after the youngster was dropped off across the street from the school. Spurred by the success of Walk to School Day, administrators plan to hold a similar special event each month.
“It would be awesome,” Assistant Principal Christiana Kim said.