Kelsey McLennon has lived in Wauwatosa with her two siblings and parents for her entire life. When not busy with school, she enjoys dancing, running, and spending time with friends. She is a sophomore at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, where she is involved in track, cross country, Latin club, and Irish club.
One of the things I remember most about grade school is the walk to and from my school every day. (Our school was about 5 blocks away.) We always walked with the same group of kids, there were a lot of them on my block, and many of us were in different grades. We met on the corner at 7:35 and headed to Christ King all by ourselves; no adults. Every year on the first day of school we would even all line up and take a picture, using the same yellow piece of cardboard on which we changed the date every year. That’s me holding the sign. This was my first day of first grade and it was fun to be joining this group of bigger kids.
I recently read an article about how McKinley elementary school has been trying something similar. They have received a $1,000 grant to expand the Walking School Bus program. I think groups of kids walking to school together is a great idea, but it has been done and has worked before, without trained chaperones and without costing any money, in the exact same neighborhood as McKinley.
It doesn’t make sense to me that something so simple needs to be made so complicated. I think that this is an example of how, recently, some parents have become helicopter parents. If a 9 or 10 year old cannot walk to school or help other kids walk to school, how are parents ever going to let them drive or do anything? I think that when you are half way toward being able to live alone and being able to have your own life, you are old enough to walk the short distance to school. I understand that adults may be worried about strangers or their children crossing big streets alone. I know it is up to their parents, but I think that 5th and 4th graders are old enough to walk to school on their own, and they are old enough to help younger kids walk to school too. This should be especially true in Wauwatosa, where there are sidewalks, friendly neighbors, and even crossing guards to help the kids cross the busy streets.
My dad walked ten miles to school and back, uphill both ways, in the snow, barefoot. I walked five blocks, sometimes in the snow, without a handbook or grown-up and I ended up just fine. I guess things change with time.