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Walled Lake

Wixom Elementary encourages physical fitness with walking path

September 25, 2013

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After three years of fundraising and construction, the students of Wixom Elementary finally walked the new 1/5-mile path after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 6. The path is also accessible to the community after school and on the weekends.
Fourth-grade teacher Marie Smead, left, celebrates the unveiling of the Wixom Elementary's walking path with students and parents.

WALLED LAKE — With families’ donations to the Wixom Elementary PTA, the school unveiled a new paved walking path at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 6.

“The whole school of 550 students attended, and then we probably had about 20 parents and dignitaries. We also had the Western High School cross country team as our special guests,” said Principal Alec Bender.

Guest speakers at the ceremony included Walled Lake Schools Superintendent Kenneth Gutman, PTA President Jennifer Ludwig and Walled Lake Western High School cross country coach Brad Scheck.

The PTA actively began working on the project in the fall of 2010, with the goal of offering another outlet for students to work on physical fitness.

“As moms, some of us have kids that didn’t necessarily play sports at recesses. We wanted an alternative for those kids who weren’t into sports so much,” said former PTA President Kim Galecki.

With childhood obesity on the rise, the parents and teachers looked for a way to provide any kind of exercise that would be beneficial to the students, she said.

For three consecutive falls, Wixom Elementary raised funds through a Funky Fall Fun Walkathon, where the kids were sponsored by friends and relatives.

“Successful school districts create partnerships with parents and the community, and in fact, that is an integral component of our mission in Walled Lake Schools,” said Kenneth Gutman, Walled Lake Schools superintendent.

The 1/5-mile asphalt path, which cost approximately $36,000, offers students the chance to work on their endurance and jogging during their physical education classes and recess breaks.

“We really believe that doing a physical brain break is good for learning, so occasionally the classroom teachers may take the kids out for a quick lap between subjects,” said Bender.

Students are also encouraged to join the Mileage Club, organized by the Wixom Elementary Health and Wellness Committee, which enlists parent volunteers to help log the number of laps they walk at recess.

Upon joining the Mileage Club, students receive a backpack, keychain and tokens to record the milestones they achieve.

“We’re going to log the miles, and then when they get to 100 miles, they win a 100 mile T-shirt,” said Bender. “That, along with other prizes and tokens, is something the PTA is funding.”

While students have the easiest access to the path, Wixom Elementary also invites the community to take advantage of the path in the evenings and weekends for their own activities. 

“I applaud Alec Bender, Wixom Elementary principal, the Wixom PTA and the students and families for their efforts to provide a safe place to walk, recreate and exercise for their students and the community,” Gutman said.

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