Silver Mesa students run for fun, funds at annual school jog-a-thon
Silver Mesa students run together during the school’s annual jog-a-thon fundraiser, which was earmarked to bring funds for more technology in the school. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
Near the end of the school year, Silver Mesa students were pounding the pavement — in their tennis shoes — to try to get more technology in their school for this coming school year.
Only, the annual school jog-a-thon also started with a mishap.
With the course being different from last year, the lead runners took off in the wrong direction until race volunteers brought them back to join the others in a police-patrolled run through the neighborhood.
“We changed the course last year to a more flat course where they can run twice around to get in three miles,” said teacher Maria Bailey, who ran the 1.5-mile course three times with kindergartner Jane Thackery. “It allows more flexibility for those who want to run more or run less than the three miles. When they’re done running, they stay on the playground where volunteers and staff are keeping an eye on them.”
Jane prepared for the run by running 151 laps around the school field.
“I like running and wanted to keep going,” she said on why she completed 4.5 miles, more than most of the student body.
Classmate and fellow kindergartner Jonathan Wilde ran 119 laps in preparation.
Bailey said tickets were given to students for every five laps they ran around the playing field before the jog-a-thon. Then, in a random drawing, tickets were drawn for prizes as motivation to come in ready for the big event.
But Jonathan said he ran those laps because he wanted to.
“Running is fun,” he said. “It makes me feel good to be sweaty.”
Other faculty and parents joined in on the jog-a-thon, including Jeni Larsen, who pushed an empty stroller. Her younger son and soccer player, Jake “Super Speedy” Larsen, who is not quite old enough to be at Silver Mesa, wanted to run after her older son, Rush.
“Rush loves the jog-a-thon,” she said. “He gets out there and runs laps at recess or runs with his baseball team. It’s a great way to support the school in getting new computers in the classroom.”
Principal Julie Fielding said the school goal is to have a 1-to-1 ratio of students to computers or other devices and the fundraiser helps fund that technology.
“We’re wanting technology to be in the hands of our students,” she said. “We already are there in third, fourth and fifth grades, but we need at least 200 more iPads or Chromebooks to make it in the lower grades.”
Fielding said it’s important that students learn on keyboards, much as it is on paper.
“These students today are technology natives. They’ve grown up with it and know the ins and outs of it. It’s important that they’re researching online, creating PowerPoint presentations and videos at this age just like it’s important that they’re improving their handwriting and being fluid with their thoughts on paper,” she said.
At the same time, Fielding said the jog-a-thon tradition stresses fitness to students.
“Our parent volunteers have tracked laps around our field every day because they support our fitness goals in wanting students to have healthy lifestyles. We gave our students water bottles and apples donated from McDonald’s. We’ve had support from Alta View Hospital, who gave us our T-shirts, which our recess aide Meloday Greenlief designed. It’s wonderful our community is so supportive,” she said.
Parents also put up signs of encouragement along the racecourse for their children, and neighbors lined the streets.
Tom Harmon was ready when his kindergarten grandson, Draven Pickard, came out. They ran three miles together while Tom’s wife, Cathy, cheered them on.
“He was excited to run together,” Tom said. “I pledged him in the run for the new technology so now I’m here to support him doing the jog-a-thon.”
Fourth-grader Chase Angelos said the run was “good.”
“It felt good to exercise my legs running round the neighborhood,” said the baseball, basketball and soccer player.
Fifth-grader Anna Ames said the run was harder than she expected.
“It felt good to finish,” she said. “It was fun because most of the time, I ran with a really good friend. It was fun to see everyone together running, but at the same time, it was tiring.”