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Pledging support for school programs

El Morro and Top of the World Elementary Schools held their Jog-a-thon fundraisers last Friday under brilliant blue skies.

The Jog-a-thons are some of the most important fundraising events for the schools’ PTAs, which use the money raised for special programs, field trips and assemblies.

Each student was asked to find sponsors who would pledge for every lap the child completed.

Students with the highest number of laps will receive awards.

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“We’re way ahead of last year’s pace,” El Morro Principal Chris Duddy said of the fundraising. “We have a lot more community support this year.”

In a bittersweet demonstration, some El Morro fifth-grade students wore T-shirts from last year’s event referencing Marshall Klapman, a beloved fourth-grade teacher who passed away last year.

Students were also given the option this year to donate the cost of their Jog-a-thon prizes to help fund a memorial bench that will be installed near Klapman’s classroom.

Kids ran together by grade level amid cool breezes at El Morro, where they were joined by parents, district officials, school board president Betsy Jenkins and board members Jan Vickers and Theresa O’Hare. Board member Ketta Brown joined the kids at Top of the World.

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“It’s amazing that they would come out and support an elementary school event,” El Morro Jog-a-thon coordinator Robin Rounaghi said.

The trustees were equally amazed at the students and Rounaghi.

“The kids were so enthusiastic,” Vickers said.

O’Hare, an active school volunteer, joked that the best part of the event was being able to “show up and root,” because it was so well organized.

Students at El Morro have spent the past several weeks training in running laps, preparation and pacing.

They discussed strategies during P.E. class, and Duddy led the school in lunchtime workouts before the event.

“I was impressed with how our principal showed his kids his level of physical fitness,” said Jenkins.

“It’s great to see the kids so excited about something so physically active,” said P.E. coach Tami Burns.

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“Running and walking for exercise is something that they can be involved with their whole life — this is a habit that can influence a lifetime of fitness,” P.E. coach Eric LaPierre said.

Duddy said that 97% of his students pass a state-mandated one-mile run within the required time.

“The fifth-grade class is in tremendous shape,” he said.

Parents, teachers and volunteers danced in place around the track at El Morro, cheering kids on and handing them water as they ran to the music and comedic antics of a hired DJ.

“The water’s for drinking, not pouring on yourself!” he intoned.

When the DJ announced that there were two minutes left to run, the students flew forward in a frenzy, trying to fill their lap sheets.

The younger, more inexperienced students typically begin the run by sprinting, Rounaghi said, and quickly lose steam.

The more experienced, older students know to pace themselves.

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The older kids also run for a longer period than the younger ones.

But all of them have fun.

“I love the whole thing,” said first-grader Theo Michael.

“But I like running and the Popsicle best,” he added.

Students were treated to fruit and other wholesome snacks afterward, in keeping with the state’s new healthy kids guidelines.

Smoothies, fruit juice pops and Italian ices were also available, but one student showed off a giant chocolate doughnut bar to his friends, who begged him for a piece.

Another table was laden with El Morro-logo merchandise like hats and sweatshirts.

A silent auction was held for a night at the Montage and the winning bid was over retail.

It was soon followed by a bid from an unknowing child, who proudly signed her name on the line.

So many community members and parents attend the event that the adjacent state park permitted overflow parking in its lot.

Rounaghi, who will end her Jog-a-thon tenure this year, said she’s confident in the event’s future.

“It’s great to pass it on to friends whom I know will do good with it,” she said.


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