With the help of $62,000 in federal grant money, the South Washington County School District has launched a Safe Routes to School program that had many students starting the day on Oct. 9 by walking and bicycling to school in "International Walk to School Day" events.
At Cottage Grove Middle School, about 900 students gathered for hot chocolate at Kingston Park and then walked to school, a school district news release said. Bike racks also were reported to be overflowing at Liberty Ridge Elementary in Woodbury.
Activities were held, too, at Pullman Elementary in St. Paul Park and Royal Oaks and Red Rock elementary schools in Woodbury.
"Getting children to and from school safely involves the whole community," Superintendent Keith Jacobus said in a statement. "We will continue our efforts to increase awareness and engage families, neighborhoods and partners so that more children can benefit from walking and biking to school and safer parking lots and streets."
The state Department of Transportation awarded $3.8 million in federal grants this year to school districts, cities and counties for infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks and pedestrian crossings as well as for programming that promotes neighborhood carpooling and walking and bicycling to school, among other activities.
The South Washington County program includes seven schools and runs for two years.
Each of the schools has consulted with transportation experts at the city, state and federal levels to develop Safe Routes to School plans, the district said.
During the next two years, the schools will encourage organized walking, bicycling and busing options, as well as carpooling, and also will create "safest routes to school" maps specific to each site, the district said.
Park High selects hall of fame inductees
Four players, a coach and an entire girls' track team have been named to the Park High School Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony for the honorees is set for Nov. 23 at Mississippi Dunes Golf Course in Cottage Grove.
One award is a posthumous honor for Vernon Hall, who played football, basketball, baseball and track at the former St. Paul Park High School, and graduated in 1945. Hall, who was a World War II veteran, died in 2004.
Others selected to the hall include:
• Kara (Bloomquist) Drekonja, a 1992 Park High graduate, who ran cross country and track and went on to win All-America honors at Gustavus Adolphus College, where she held numerous school records.
• Kristen Schmidt, a 2002 graduate, who earned all-conference honors in volleyball, basketball and softball, and was All-America at Concordia University.
• Daniel Storlien, a 1989 graduate, who was the captain of the 1988 state runner-up boys' soccer team, played soccer in college and now is a social studies teacher and the head boys' soccer coach at Bloomington Jefferson High School.
• Henry Tressel, who for more than 50 years coached district athletes in a variety of sports, including football, baseball, golf and softball. Tressel started the district's alpine and Nordic ski programs and led the Park High golf team to a 2008 state championship, the school's only boys' state title.
• The 1988 girls' track team, which is the first team to be inducted into the Hall of Fame — an honor tied to the 25th anniversary of the team's state championship win. The team was coached by Bob Meyer and led by Sue Chopskie and Anne Arlich, the district said.