Small Town Wins Big National Award

Congressman Petri presents the Oberstar Award to Paul Williams - Principal at Omro Middle School

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

Students working in the Omro Middle School Bike Shoppe

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.

About Jessica Wineberg, Deputy Director

The second staff member hired for the Milwaukee office 13 years ago, Jessica started our Safe Routes to School and adult bicyclist and motorist education and is now focusing on passing and implementing an equitable Complete Streets Policy in Milwaukee. Jessica lives in the Riverwest neighborhood with her son Everett.

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