Students promote cause on Walk to School Day

MERRIMACK – About 40 James Mastricola Upper Elementary students, along with about 10 school faculty members and multiple officers from the Merrimack Police Department, gathered Wednesday to participate in International Walk to School Day to promote health and wellness.

“Walk to School Day events raise awareness of the need to create safer routes for walking and bicycling and emphasize the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion and concern for the environment,” school physical education teacher Rick Greenier stated. “The events build connections between families, schools and the broader community.”

The half-mile walk began promptly at 8:10 a.m. on McElwain Street, as the group was escorted by Detective Thomas Prentice. The event was organized by the National Center for Safe Routes to School along with Greenier, information stated.

James Mastricola began participating in the event during the 2004-05 academic term. Greenier said it has been interesting to think that while people are participating in Merrimack, others across the globe are, too.

“While we are doing it, there are about 10,000 other students across the world doing, it as well,” Greenier said.

Events such as these bring unity to the community and gives students a chance to see people such as police officers and school officials in a more informal atmosphere, Greenier said.

In response to the turnout of the event, Greenier said, “I’m pleasantly surprised that so many children showed up and are helping to promote wellness and are just getting out in the community.”

Greenier also touched upon how grateful he was for the help of the school’s administration.

“I’m so appreciative of my administration,” Greenier said. “I know I have their support and that’s huge, and today’s a great example of that actually.”

Superintendent Marge Chiafery said this year was the first for her as a participant. She said it was special that the police force teamed up with school officials.

“You can see that they really are delighted in being with the students and being our partners,” Chiafery said.

She also said by having MPD as the guides for the walk, with the escort’s sirens and lights on, people take notice.

“You wonder what’s going on and begin to ask questions, and then you find out its International Walk to School Day,” Chiafery said.

“It’s something everyone can do and the master public complex is set up so that the walking course is really great… if you walk the whole loop, it’s about a mile,”she said.

Chiafery said she was pleased to have Greenier as the overseer of this event. “You’ve always got to have someone that leads the charge and Rick is faithful to it. I’m very pleased.”

Grace Pecci can be contacted at 594-1243, or