A new club has formed at Field Elementary School: Field Fleet Feet, an after school running/walking club for third graders.
Three days a week, 80 third-graders lace up their shoes, deposit their backpacks and strategically place their water bottles in a shady place along the route, which is the perimeter of the Field Elementary School playground.
The idea for the club was born from a new bus schedule that keeps five buses until 3:30 p.m., a half-hour after school dismissal. Runners Terria Cox and Mary Turner, faculty members at the school, along with Principal Philip Pohren, chatted often about how to turn a half-hour after-school “keeping” session into a productive exercise club for students.
When Cox discovered the booth promoting the Governor’s 100 Missouri Miles at the State Fair in August, the three wondered how they could have the third graders join the challenge as a group.
Turner called the governor’s office, and aide Brittany Burke explained how to make individual email log-ins and form a group on the Missouri 100 Miles website. She also offered something tangible to the students — the fluorescent yellow and teal blue T-shirt promoting the Governor's challenge.
Each day when the club meets, a loud speaker calls the runners at 2:50 p.m. to the central hallway where they file to the door and sprint to their spots to warm up. A volunteer sits on a stool by the starting point, handing out a popsicle stick each time a runner or walker rounds the turn, encouraging and kidding each student. Cox and Turner take turns running with the students.
As buses are called, the students scamper to backpacks, hurriedly count their sticks, report laps to the teacher who isn’t running and head for their bus line. Parents pick up the other students at 3:30 p.m. while walkers and bike riders head home. Riders of the last two buses can continue running or walk some cool down laps.
Mileage leaders and the class with the highest average miles are reported on Friday with the morning announcements. Individual notes with total miles and the announcements are distributed to the students to take home Friday afternoon. Marathon running community members are scheduled to bring their medals and speak to the students on several occasions throughout the year. An awards ceremony, complete with medals and a victory lap, is planned for next spring at the new Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium. Students will get to choose an adult to walk or run the victory lap with them.
A different color “Toe Token” is awarded for each 10 miles logged. Students will sport these on their shoelaces as a badge of pride. Students are individually graphing their progress toward the 100 Missouri Miles as well as signing posters below each color foot denoting 10 mile intervals that are displayed in the hallway. At the 26.2 marathon mark, each student will receive the Governor’s T-shirt that Brittany Burke sent from the governor’s office for each student.
Page 2 of 2 - More than 10,000 Missourians have signed up for the outdoor fitness initiative, which was launched this year by Gov. Nixon and First Lady Georganne to promote Missouri’s status as “2013 Best Trails State” by American Trails. The goal of the initiative is to reach one million miles before the end of the year. Since the official launch on June 1, participants have completed 745,000 miles, including 292 miles by Gov. Nixon and 296 by First Lady Georganne. Field School Principal Philip Pohren, who started at the end of August, has logged 126 miles to top the leader board for Field Fleet Feet, who have logged 363 miles as a group.
For more information on the Governor's 100 Missouri Miles Challenge, visit 100MissouriMiles.com.