Walking to school can be considered sort of a rite of passage.

The Berkshire Eagle reports Mary Ann King has been a city crossing guard for 43 years, longer than she's been together with her husband, Leon, who now also serves as a crossing guard.

There were days when herds of kids would cross her longtime post at Cliff and Union streets, bombarding her with their energy and cheerful hellos. Now, she ushers only a handful of kids safely across the road on a regular basis.

For the past two years, North Adams Public Schools have partnered with North Berkshire Mass in Motion and the state transportation department's "Safe Routes to School" to host two special "Walk to School Day" programs a year, one in the fall and one in the spring.

This includes local schools, city, police, and fire officials leading "walking school bus" routes to the city's elementary schools.

Parents who normally drive their kids or send them to school on the bus are invited to park in designated areas around the elementary school neighborhoods to join the experience.

More than 50 children, families and caregivers participated in Thursday morning's walk, which had been postponed from Tuesday due to the rain.

Occasional mischief aside, organizers say walking to school has several benefits.

For some kids, it's the act of being fit and getting some extra energy out of their system before sitting in class all day.

For others, it's getting to spend a little extra time with siblings and family members.

Mass in Motion Project Coordinator Amanda Chilson said that for the first time this year, parents and caregivers are invited to walk with their children every third Wednesday of the month, to encourage the momentum of the initiative.

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