Omro Middle School is one of only two schools in the country to receive the 2011 James L. Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award. “It’s given annually for the school that distinguishes itself in providing safe walking and biking to the school” said Lauren Marchetti, Director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School Director at the awards ceremony last Thursday. Omro Middle School has created a host of programs to create the best school for biking, including an on-site bike shop, a school based bike-share program with 35 bikes for PE classes, lunch break rides, and a cyclocross course. In addition, Omro teachers supervise walking school bus stops to help keep students safe as they walk or bike to class.
The Omro Safe Routes to School Program is led by PE teacher Joe Horvath and school principal Paul Williams with support from Melissa Kraemer Badtke and her SRTS team at East Central Regional Planning Commission. Joe and Paul are committed to getting more kids active and engaged thru biking and, it is working. The Omro students love biking
during PE, borrow bikes during recess, and go on a 30 mile teamwork ride as the capstone experience for the completion of eighth grade. According to Renee Callaway of the WisDOT SRTS program “Ninety percent of Omro Middle School students have the option of riding the bus to school; however, more than 40 percent of those students, who live within two miles of the school, chose to either walk or bike.”
The James L. Oberstar award is named in honor of the former U.S. Congressman who sponsored the Safe Routes to School legislation. Applications for the next round of Safe Routes to School funding will be available through WisDOT later this spring. Representative Tom Petri bestowed the award on the school and received a surprise plaque of recognition for his amendment to maintain funding for SRTS in the house transportation bill as well. Thank you Omro Middle School and Petri for being wonderful Wisconsin Bike Heroes.