Photo: Mr. “S” leading the way to school on International Walk to School Day.
On a cool, crisp autumn morning, Richard Samaria – best known to generations of Belmont Elementary students as Mr. “S” – said there is nothing better for students and teachers than to start their mornings by walking to school.
“It’s a great workout, great exercise,” said the retired physical education teacher, who is still remembered for his Mr. “S” parties and a certain “Chicken Fat” song.
“It gets a lot out of them when they wake up and start to loosen up, so you’re ready to learn,” Samaria said as he greeted and helped march a group of Wellington Elementry student smartly down Oakley Road and Goden Street as part of International Walk to School Day held this year on Wednesday, Oct. 5.
Beginning in 1997, Walk to School Day is a global event that involves 4,800 schools in more than 40 countries who are all walking and biking to school on the same day with the goal of beginning a worldwide movement for year-round safe routes to schools for walkers and bike riders.
Mr. “S” joined Aimee Doherty, the current physical education teacher and Gerry Dickhaut, owner of Champions Sporting Goods, as “guest” walkers who met with more than a dozen students, a handful of parents and a few dogs as they proceeded downhill from the corner of Oakley and Payson road to the Wellington.
The Oakley group soon met up with Assistant Fire Chief Angus Davison and Colleen McBride, a Wellington second grade teacher – who once walked a total of eight miles to and from a village school while living in Keyna – all making their way to the school’s outdoor play area where the students (mostly energized) were given stickers, shoelaces, and pens promoting walking to school not just one day a year but making it a daily activity.