Even though the post office, banks and all state office buildings were open October 1st, nevertheless for parents, students and alumni of Redoubt Elementary School was not only “Walk to School Day” but the first ever National Sharon Hale Day as proclaimed by Redoubt’s principal and (national supreme potentate) John Pothast, “I was planning on thanking Sharon for a multitude of reasons, she is the most full time, part time person anyone has ever had and whether it’s our fundraiser or Walk to School Day or the hundreds of other things she is certainly deserving of a National Day of recognition by unanimous consent of everyone who has every attended or had a child attend Redoubt while Sharon has been here,” potentate Pothast told the Dispatch in an interview.
“It was absolutely a surprise for me and the terrible thing about it was that I wasn’t here to hear the proclamation on the morning announcements because I was walking back to the church to get my car after walking to school,” laughed Hale. “Thank you is really all I can think to say so Thank you!” For 13 some years Hale has coordinated the local participation in the international Walk to School Day which comes a week following the local day. “This is Alaska, the cold and darkness gets here earlier so we do our walk earlier,” said Hale. According to Hale the event is important not only because it gets the kids outside and wide awake to start school with some exercise but with the help of Jane Fellman of the CPH Safekids program helps kids learn how to keep safe and wear reflective clothing and reflector buttons when walking to school.
One difference in the walk to school route this year is the newly completed roundabouts that removed the 4-way stop at the intersection of Redoubt and Binkley Street. “Kids and drivers have to learn new safety procedures at that intersection. In general we always want drivers to watch out for kids and I’m glad we’ve had them open soon enough so drivers and walkers can have some time to practice before the snow and ice come. Walkers and bikers should not be in the roundabout but go past to the pedestrian walkway prior to or after the roundabout, however drivers should always watch for walkers and bikers who may be in the wrong place or forget where they should be when the snow arrives. The key is to not just look but to move your head and actively look before entering the roundabout and be sure to slow down. We tell our kids to make eye contact with the driver whether walking or on bike before proceeding,” said Pothast.