NORMAL — On a typical day, about a fourth of the roughly 200 students at Glenn Elementary School get there by walking or riding a bike, says their principal, Cari Oester.
But Wednesday wasn't a “typical” day. It was National Walk to School Day and, once again, Glenn School was among those taking part.
A steady stream of youngsters entered the grounds on foot or wheels, despite dark clouds that threatened to dampen the occasion.
For some, such as 5-year-old Brady Kadivar, it was nothing new. The kindergartner rides his bike to school with his mom, Bethany Kadivar, almost every day, even though they live about three miles away.
She said they take even longer rides on Constitution Trail.
In some cases, parents drove their children part of the way, then let them out of the car to walk the remaining few blocks.
Eight-year-old Madison Bauer, a third-grader, was engrossed in her Nancy Drew mystery book, reading as she walked with her 6-year-old sister Hannah, a first-grader.
Dan Steider rode his bike with his 11-year-old son, Robert, a fifth-grader. It was a change of pace from the days when he was his son's age.
“I lived on a farm,” said Steider. “I was a busser.”
Cyclists weren't the only students rolling to school.
Fifth-grader Thomas Eganhouse, 10, arrived on in-line skates while wearing a shirt with the emblem of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team.
As he put his skates in his backpack and changed into regular shoes, Thomas expressed confidence that the Blackhawks would reach the playoffs this season.
For crossing guard Gayle Thomas, Walk to School Day meant he was busier than usual at the corner of Fell and Glenn avenues. But he likes the children he sees each day, and the dogs people walk past his post.
“It gets me out of the house,” he said.
More than 5,000 schools nationwide registered for the national event, including more than 200 in Illinois. In addition to Glenn, they included Grove Elementary and Parkside Elementary schools in Unit 5, Oakland School in District 87 and Metcalf School, an Illinois State University lab school.
The event is sponsored by the National Center for Safe Routes to School. The goal is to encourage more students to walk or bike to school beyond just one day by providing safe ways to do so.
Gladys Masters, a crossing guard supervisor, said, “The kids are good,” but motorists need to pay better attention in school zones.
Oester, who is in her first year as principal, said Glenn being a neighborhood school provides many opportunities for children to walk or bike to school.
Both are good exercise, she said, and having a bike “teaches them the responsibility of owning a bike and learning the rules of the road.”
And, Oester said by walking together to or from school, “Parents can bond with their children.”
Christina Gathright laughed that walking with her children Dylan, 7, and Avery, 6, gives them “a chance at the end of the day to complain about walking home.”