Local elementary schools reap rewards of running clubs

by Celia Shortt


Eastside students race each other around the track during the weekly running club. From left, Jackson Divido, Sienna Goulding, Austen Thompson, Tyler Wessinger and Chandler Kunkle. 

Both Elm Street Elementary School and Eastside Elementary School are doing something unique to keep their students active.

Each school hosts a running club one day a week after school for kids, teachers, and families to participate in. Elm Street’s club has been around awhile, but for PE teacher Jud Baker, he just picked it up last year.

The purpose of the club is to provide kids with some activity time to get into shape, he said. “Because it is more relaxed, I think we have more people getting involved with it.”

“I want to give them something to do,” he added. “Seventy-five percent of these kids would go home and sit down.”

Baker said the kids are allowed to walk or run on the track, and he also encourages them to build friendships and meet new people.

Eastside’s purpose is similar.

“I thought that it would be fun,” said Eastside teacher Brendan Shaner. “It’s a need that is unfulfilled for so many kids. They only get PE once a week.”

I encourage them to work at home, too, he added.

Shaner has been at Eastside since 2002 and teaches fourth and fifth grade. This year is the school’s first to have a running club, and it has about 90 kids participate each week.

“I was surprised at how many kids wanted to do it,” said Shaner. “They’re just running. I had thought they’d be bored.”

Shaner also encourages teachers and family members to run with the kids.

Eastside Principal Leigh Munson is pleased with how the club has worked out and said Shaner did a lot of research before starting it.

To help keep the kids goal oriented during running club, both Baker and Shaner keep track each day of how far each child runs. Then they keep track of how far everyone “runs” throughout the year.

I want them to have a sense of what they’re doing combined with everyone else, said Baker.

Elm Street’s running club runs to different places in the United States. This year, they are running to different national parks. Right now, they are headed to Mt. Rushmore.

Eastside’s running club has different mile clubs to track how far everybody runs - 1 mile club, 5 mile, 10 mile, and marathon. Each time a student reaches a new club, he or she receives a wrist band, marking the achievement.

Some of the running club participants have already reached the marathon level.

Both Elm Street and Eastside require students to sign up for it at the beginning of the school year, and both plan to continue their running clubs next school year.

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