BY MITCH RYALS
Wednesday mornings have become a little more exciting for first-graders at Russell Elementary. They’re walking, running, skipping, jumping, climbing, exploring, moseying, racing — and it isn’t even recess.
Bookbags are abandoned on the floor outside the classrooms, and some coats are strewn about and forgotten because when you’re 6, you’re immune to any kind of biting cold or whipping wind Columbia can throw at you.
What has come to be known as Walking Wednesdays has apparently already benefited students, teachers and parents. It all started with Maggie Drennan, one of the first-grade teachers at Russell. Making use of the new gravel track that was just installed around the playground with money from PTO and the school district, she came up with a way for her students to get a little more exercise before they start their day.
That’s why every Wednesday morning, since September,
from 8:15 until 8:30, about 100 first-graders can be found circling the playground. Besides adding exercise to the school day, the 15 minutes is a great opportunity for kids, teachers and sometimes parents to socialize, Drennan said.
“We (first-grade teachers) have 24 or 25 kids each, so we get time to visit with them,” she said. The walks give students a chance to socialize with kids from other classes, as well as giving teachers a chance to talk with students outside class.
In addition to fresh air, exercise and social time, Walking Wednesdays have become an opportunity for kids to spend more time with their dads. Drennan said once a month the school has incorporated a Dad’s Day into the walk and invited dads to come and walk with their kids. Afterward, dads spend the day with kids reading books and doing other activities relating to the curriculum. The theme day has been well received.
Geanine Moyer, another first-grade teacher, said her kids really enjoy it. “It’s a good way to start the day,” she said, “with a little fresh air.”