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Sandy Journal

Community helps Park Lane fun run be successful beyond dollar amount

Dec 01, 2023 10:48AM ● By Julie Slama

A Jordan High school student runs along with Park Lane Elementary students motivating them during their annual fun run. (Jeannie Hill/Park Lane Elementary)

Community members lined the streets near Park Lane Elementary cheering for the hundreds of youngsters participating in the school’s annual fun run.

Kindergartners through fifth-graders ran the route, some racing to meet goals for faster times, others happily finishing while talking with friends. 

Still other youngsters got assistance from about 40 Jordan High student-athletes, said Park Lane Principal Justin Jeffery.

“We’ve had the cross country team help the past five or six years, but now we had a couple football players, some dancers, kids from the soccer team, volleyball team members and just a lot of student-athletes wanting to help,” Jeffery said. “It was a lot cooler than just cross country runners joining them on the route and making sure kids were doing okay. This year, I was able to assign buddies to a lot of classes.”

Jeffery matched a couple high school students with elementary classes and teachers who wanted older students’ help.

“It was motivating for our Park Lane kids to stretch and run with the high school athletes,” he said. “They related to them and gave them their respect.”

Jordan High School student-athletes warmed up alongside the younger students, leading them in different stretches.

“It’s fantastic too because all of them are stretching before they run, but they’re also getting to know their buddies before the fun run. It’s good for our students to get to know these Jordan High students, which is part of our feeder system, and have this good experience with students from that school, which they’ll remember as they get older,” he said.

Already, Park Lane fifth-grade students get lessons encouraging good behavior and positive choices during the year from Jordan High’s 20-member Peer Leadership Team.

Last spring, about 10 members from Jordan High’s boys’ and girls’ soccer teams came to play soccer and lead other activities with students during a recess, something Jeffery would like to do more frequently this year.

“Our kids got excited, and they had fun. It was a positive interaction between high school students and elementary students,” he said.

Jeffery also hopes to involve high school students with the school’s annual STEM and Arts nights.

“We’d love to grow that relationship more because it really helps give our students a positive role model. I think the kids enjoyed learning from the older students who have been here,” he said. “It’s also been good for the older students to connect with others in the community and gain leadership experience. Some of them may want to go into education or youth sports or even become a pediatrician as a career path and this may be their first exposure working with kids younger than them. A lot of them are here to provide service for the community and when they’re Park Lane alums and the kids get excited for that.”

The fun run is Park Lane’s annual fundraiser, where “the kids and parents and the community want to help the school, so we have that common goal.” This year, the community helped raise $20,000, the most ever, he said, which goes to help with the costs of school activities such as field trips, Field Day, dance festival, birthday celebrations, fifth-grade party, Junior Achievement, Red Ribbon Week, teacher appreciation, Arts night, STEM night and other programs.

As a celebration, Park Lake students got to “explore s’more,” which matched the PTA theme, by running the school hallways and seeing their principal camp out on the school roof.

“I’ve kissed an alligator, held a snake, jumped from an airplane, been duct taped to a wall, rode a mechanical ball, got soaked in a dunk tank — I do it for the kids. When they know at the end that we reached our goal, then they know there’s something memorable and fun for them. It motivates them and excites them — and that’s worth it,” he said. “It’s a great community with great support for the school.”λ