More than 700 students walked to either Little Mountain or Centennial Elementary School on Wednesday morning as part of International Walk to School Day.

The two schools turned the day into a competition: Which school could get the most students walking or riding bicycles?

Centennial won, with 452 students and 34 staff members taking part, or 77 percent of the  school population. Little Mountain tallied 266 students and eight staff members, or 41 percent.

Centennial Principal Erwin Stroosma said he was happy to see so many kids walking to school. He said their success was due to schoolwide enthusiasm.

“I had overwhelming support from staff members who wanted to participate,” Stroosma said.

Teachers and parents met students at designated stops along the walking routes.

The event was good practice for next year, when the school district begins state-mandated walking routes for schools. Starting in 2012-13, students who live within a walking mile of the school district will not be riding a bus.

Stroosma said organizers had the new bus rule in mind when organizing Wednesday’s event.

“This is intended to get people in the habit, to build community spirit around it,” Stroosma said.

The project was part of the Mount Vernon School District and Skagit County Healthy Communities partnership. The Healthy Communities program focuses on increasing healthy nutrition and exercise.

For its efforts, Centennial will receive $986 for playground equipment, and Little Mountain will receive $274 for playground equipment, according to Liz McNett Crowl, coordinator for Healthy Communities’ outreach and development.

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