HELENA — On Tuesday, Central Elementary School teachers, students, and parents all laced up their shoes and got out the door bright and early to participate in the Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day.
"We're walking to school for Ruby today because she is an important figure in history, and for the students to be able to incorporate history and walk with her in her ideals, we are able to teach them even a deeper understanding of what we want in equality and unity," said Central Elementary Montessori Teacher Libby Kenney.
Some may know the story of Ruby Bridges, at six years old, Bridges stepped into the history books in 1960, when she integrated William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, becoming a national icon for the civil rights movement.
Bridges' story continues to inspire the next generation of leaders to end racism together one step at a time, and on Tuesday, Central students walked to school in honor of her.
"Today is the actual day 60 years ago that she walked to school, along with some guards, to make sure she was safe. So today we get to understand how important that step was and get to integrate other students making sure that safety is a priority, as well as prevention of bullying and integration of all students, regardless of race," said Kenney.
Kenney applied for a grant to the Ruby Bridges Foundation over the summer, to have a day during the school year to bring awareness to students, and parents, about Bridges' story by holding a walk-to-school event, while also dedicating curriculum about her story throughout the school day.
"We got a grant that supplied food for all the students this morning. Muffins and crescents and hot chocolate, all the fun, yummy stuff for the morning, and it also paid for books for each classroom, Ruby Bridges authored books, and some raffle prizes for the students," said Kenney.
When awarded the grant, it meant everything to Kenney to be able to host this event to have the community come together as one.
From the Parent Council organizing the Walk to School Day to the 20 volunteers ranging from Central staff, parents of students, as well as some high school students.
"There were so many supporters with and not just Parent Council, but parents throughout our school came and helped out and the children are so excited and it was just a really neat, big event for us to see all the families involved," said Kenney.
Kenney was thrilled to see parents, students, and their friends all walking to school for a good cause and was proud to hold this special event.
"I got a little emotional, and I think I saw some other family members too. It was neat to see so many people involved," said Kenney, "We don't always get this much involvement from families, so it was neat just to see the increase and what a big event it turned out for Central School and our Helena community."