Submitted by Peter Harrison, Principal at Young School, Saco Schools. Text Written by Ken Studtmann, Wokka Wokka Coordinator. Photos by Dr. Peter Harrison and Ken Studtmann.
For several years the Young School students have participated in a much beloved walking program during their Wednesday’s lunch time recess. The students fondly named it “Walking Wednesday”.
During Walking Wednesday, the students walk, skip, hop or move in creative movements 1/8-mile laps around the school while parent and adult volunteers track and tally the number of laps each student completes. The number of laps completed are recorded for individual students and collectively tallied for classroom, and the entire school. For every 2.5 miles the student walks they receive an incentivizing award of a “toe token”. At the end of the year, the classroom from each grade level with the highest number of laps receives an extra recess.
For the past two years, a lesson in geography has been integrated into the program. Last year, the laps walked by the students represented a unit of distance along the Appalachian Trail. The students successfully completed 1,378 miles of the Appalachian Trail; Maine to Virginia. The student’s progress was tracked on a large map displayed in the school’s front entry hallway for students, teachers and staff, and visitors to watch the progress. This year the laps represented the number of times the students crossed the Penobscot bridge; 3,541 times and growing.
As a means to further enhance the program, a language component was introduced in the beginning of this current school year with the reading of “HOW DO YOU WOKKA-WOKKA”, c 2009 by Elizabeth Bluemle, art by Randy Cecil. The book was a great inspiration to the students, staff, and adult volunteers of the program. The book’s premise of finding your own walking style was embraced by the students with lots of styles emerging. The students even changed the program’s name into “Wokka Wokka Wednesday”. The Wokka Wokka Wednesday is a much-loved program at Young School.
Fun Fact #1: The Appalachian Trail is among the longest continuously marked trails through 14 states; Maine to Georgia. The trail is marked with approximately 165,000 white blazes along the trail guiding hikers all 2,186 miles.
Fun Fact #2: The Penobscot bridge spans 2,120 feet from the east shore to the west shore of the Penobscot river. The design of the bridge’s two towers was inspired by the Washington Monument.
Fun Fact #3: Young School Students love to Walk! Last year, the Young School students collectively walked fictitiously from Maine to Virginia on the Appalachian Trail and this year they walked 3,541 times across the Penobscot the bridge.
For additional information to learn how to implement a walking program at your school, please contact Dr. Peter Harrison, Young School Principal.