Kelly School Wins Award for Walking School Bus Text Size


 The Kelly Full Service Community School was recently named the recipient of the Community Collaboration for Safe Routes Success award for their Walking School Bus program. The award, which was presented on Tuesday March 4 at the 7th Annual MassDOT Safe Routes to School Forum in Framingham, recognized Kelly School for their partnership with the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Outreach team to increase public awareness, participation and support for SRTS activities in the City of Holyoke.


This innovative program began in the fall of 2013 and is a Healthy Holyoke, Mass in Motion initiative, with support from the MassDOT Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS) and is designated for cars and school buses to drop off school children at a remote location. Teachers (or other safe adult volunteers) walk to school with students in the same way a school bus drives students to school. Similar to a bus, the walking buses have routes with specific “bus stops” and “pick up times” in which they pick up the students. At Kelly School, teachers meet students in South Holyoke and walk them about one mile to school, beginning at the corner of South Bridge and Hamilton Streets. Even in sub-zero temperatures, Kelly’s Walking School Bus was still in operation!


Through additional grant funding provided by the Holyoke Food and Fitness Policy Council, and major safety improvements made to crosswalks and sidewalks by the Holyoke DPW, the program will continue throughout the end of the school year. According to Kelly School Project Manager Rebecca Masters, not only are students walking to school safely and benefitting from the physical activity, but the absence rate of Kelly Walking School Bus participants has declined by 68 percent, and tardies by 71 percent, compared to last year. 


“The Walking School Bus program is an excellent example of the great things that can happen when a community collaborates and works together on behalf of its students,” Mayor Alex Morse commented. “I want to thank everyone who made this pilot program such a success, including Rebecca Masters and the dedicated teachers and staff of Kelly School, the Holyoke Police Department and DPW, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, the Holyoke YMCA, and Mass in Motion. Everyone involved in this innovative program should be proud of their work, and I’m looking forward to seeing the WSB continue to expand and grow.” Kelly School plans on creating a second Walking School Bus for students living in the Flats starting next school year.

Posted on March 14, 2014 by