Cleveland MS takes part in ‘Walktober’ to end crosswalk fatalities

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Sixth-grade students at Cleveland Middle School in northeast Albuquerque took a little walk Wednesday, taking part in national Walk to School Month or “Walktober.” 

But, this walk had extra meaning. It was held as part of the Vision Zero Initiative, a nationwide effort to end traffic fatalities.

“It is the opportunity to really review just those walking basics that keep students safe, all people safe,” said Principal of Cleveland Middle School Amy Veschusio Lissich.

The emphasis on safety especially hits home at Cleveland Middle School. 

“For us, it’s especially important, we are in the middle of Albuquerque, and so those skills are important for wherever our students go,” said Lissich. 

In 2018, 12-year-old Eliza Almuina was hit and killed in a crosswalk outside the school. 

Following that tragic death, the city identified dozens of problem crosswalks across the city and started efforts to improve those crosswalks. 

By mid-2020, nearly 50 elementary and middle schools saw crosswalk improvements. 

At Cleveland Middle School, traffic safety remains a focus. 

“We repeat the message over and over again because it’s a life skill right? Separating from your phone or walking across the street, making eye contact with the drivers – those are important things to do. So we repeat them in the hopes that it lands,” Lissich said. 

School administrators say they’ll keep working with students to keep traffic safety top of mind as they walk around Albuquerque. 

“Like I said here in the city kids need the skills all the time, so we’re excited that APS is offering this opportunity for us, and my kids have been great through the experience,” said Lissich.