A school kid climbs a metal ladder on the side of a cliff.

A boy from the village of Atule'er, China, climbs a steel ladder to his school.

Dong mu - Imaginechina/AP Images

How Do You Get to School?

Check out the amazing journeys these students take every day.

Chen Jie/The Beijing News/VCG via Getty Images

Do you get annoyed when the school bus is late? Does your long walk to school tire you out? Well, imagine climbing up and down an actual mountain to get to class! That’s what kids in the village of Atule’er (ah-TOO-leer) in China do. The village is atop a cliff in a remote area of southwest China. There’s no room for a school there. So kids travel 2,624 feet down steel ladders to get to the nearest school.

Sounds pretty scary, right? Believe it or not, the trip used to be even more dangerous. Up until a few years ago, kids risked their lives climbing rotting bamboo ladders. But in 2016, the Chinese government replaced the broken ladders with ones made of steel. Now the trip is much safer.

Water, water everywhere. That describes life in the village of Layag Layag in the Philippines. The village is in a marsh, an area of land where water covers the ground most of the time. Until a few years ago, kids had to put their supplies in plastic bags and swim more than a mile to school! That’s because many families in the area couldn’t afford boats. Students would often miss school or arrive late, tired, and soaking wet.

Courtesy of Yellow Boat Foundation

A group called the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation changed that. Since 2011, it has provided school boats for students in Layag Layag and other marsh villages in the Philippines. Now kids across the country have a quick, safe, and dry way to get to school.

“Because of these boats, we will not be absent anymore,” says student Azra Digo Nadzer Karon.

Marla Meridith

Lucas Meridith has a lot in common with the students in Atule’er. The Colorado 12-year-old also travels down a mountain to get to school. But Lucas doesn’t climb. He rides a gondola—an enclosed lift suspended from a cable.

“It feels like I’m riding a slow roller coaster in midair,” Lucas says.

Edvard Nalbantjan/Shutterstock.com

Lucas lives in Mountain Village, high in the ski slopes of Colorado. There’s no school in his town. So he travels about 800 feet down the San Juan Mountains to the town of Telluride each day.

One of his favorite things about the ride? He often spots prairie dogs, elk, and bears amid the pine trees.

“The views are outstanding and breathtaking,” says Lucas.

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