The kiss and ride is still a large part of the daily routine at Vienna Elementary School, but at least on Wednesdays, students are leaving parents' cars and big yellow county buses behind in favor of their own two feet.
Last Wednesday, 194 students were counted walking or biking to class during the school's "Walking Wednesday" initiative -- just more than half of the school's 388-member student body and more than double the number of students counted during the school's best day of the Vienna Walk/Bike Challenge.
"We are regularly seeing over 150 students from all over town walking on Wednesdays and the charm and coffee table has become a small social scene," said Sean McCall, a Safe Routes to School leader and parent
Since it kicked off on International Walk to School Day last October, "Walking Wednesdays" has attracted students and their parents rain or shine, with groups trickling in clusters down Center Street toward the school's parking lot.
Students collect a toe token or special charm for participating each week, hanging them in large clumps from their backpacks; parents have their own incentive in free coffee donated by Caffe Amouri, McCall said.
Only 21 percent of students are designated walkers by Fairfax County Public Schools, meaning they live within a mile or less of the building. During the 2010-2011 school year, only about 44 students regularly walked or biked in the morning, McCall said.
McCall said the event's success is due in part to Caffe Amouri's Michael Amouri and parents Linda Kerr and Beth Glicker, who are there every Wednesday to hand out tokens.
"Their work has helped make Walking Wednesdays an exciting event for our students and a weekly community gathering time for VES parents," McCall said.
To see photos from last week's event, click through the media gallery above.