Bridge Street School’s walking school bus to expand route

  • Bridge Street Elementary School. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 4/30/2018 11:52:03 PM

NORTHAMPTON — For students at Bridge Street School, the walking school bus is a healthier and more environmentally sustainable alternative to taking a traditional bus.

Starting Wednesday, the walking school bus will have a new first stop at Sheldon Field to make it easier for children from farther away to use the program.

The walking school bus was originally founded in the fall by a Bridge Street parent who sought to address the parking and traffic issues around the school during drop off and pick up times. The program runs every Monday through Friday in the morning and “bus drivers” pick up children to walk them to the school.

“We have a lot of families that choice in from other districts,” said Stephanie Pouliot, parent teacher organization president at BSS. “There are a lot of kids who live far from the school who do not qualify for free bussing, so this new stop makes it easier.”

Pouliot said that the transition times at the beginning and end of the school day make the school scarce of parking, and full of traffic. These conditions can be dangerous for the children when they are dropped off, she said.

The new stop was conceived because the original first stop, near Crosby Street and I-91 saw few participants since a lot of students were not from the area.

The route change coincides with “Massachusetts Walk, Bike and Roll to School Day,” and to celebrate, students on the walking bus ride will participate in a parade where they will kazoo songs from their “Bridge Street on Broadway” concert, which took place this past March.

“This is sort of a fun way to draw attention to the program and the new Sheldon Fields stop,” Pouliot said.

Parade participants are asked to gather at Sheldon Field beginning at 7:50 a.m. for coffee, snacks and giveaways. The students will then leave Sheldon Field at 8:10, to head up Day Ave. to Bates St. and follow the normal route to BSS.

“The program promotes healthy habits and also promotes the community in a way that a regular school bus can not,” Pouliot said.

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