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The City Journals

South Jordan schools walk, ride, run for fitness, school funds

Oct 22, 2019 01:23PM ● By Julie Slama

And they’re off — Elk Meadows students start racing at the start of their school fun run. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

It wasn’t a roll-a-thon, but one dedicated student teacher was determined to fulfill two of her students’ wishes — to participate in Elk Meadows’ fun run.

First graders James Lecorick and Nia Hafoka, with a broken leg and broke ankle, respectively, were being pushed in a wheelchair on the pavement watching their classmates jog in the fun run.

But asked if they were enjoying their ride-a-thon, both students wished they were out in the grass, running along other first graders. That’s when student teacher Melissa Figueroa, who was recovering from knee surgery, pushed them off-road and onto the course.

They joined students in their grade, trying to complete laps to raise funds for the school — as did South Jordan and Welby elementaries. All three schools held their fun run events within the past month, with donations earmarked for school activities.

At Elk Meadows, half of the funds, with a $20,000 goal, will be used for field trips, school PTA President Carolann Rogers said. The rest of the money will be used for Red Ribbon and kindness weeks, Reflections, teacher gifts and other activities for the 785 students.

“The run gets kids excited about fitness and the school gets to keep the money,” Rogers said. 

Elk Meadows jogathon coordinator Scott Andrewsen said he likes to encourage fitness and exercise among the students.

“It’s fun for the kids, and they feel as if they accomplished something,” said the dad of two boys at the school who “loves to be involved.” “I love that the kids get out, raise funds for their own activities and become invested in the whole process. It’s really motivating.”

Parent Katie Warner, who was volunteering to mark students’ laps, said it inspired her three children at the school.

“They unloaded the dishwasher, took out the garbage, found extra ways to earn money to bring in for the school,” she said. “The kids are excited to run, and it’s a lot more healthy than other fundraisers, like selling cookie dough.”

While Welby’s fun run was planned to circle the school campus, rainstorms altered the course to inside the multi-purpose room, said Welby PTA President Allisun Cartier.

“We decided if we had to move it inside, we’d make it fun,” she said.

After brainstorming with the PTA, the fun run looked more like a glow party, with glow-in-the-dark bracelets, music, disco lights and black lights, making the inside walking track “more like a party atmosphere than a fitness one.”

“It was really fun, a different feeling and atmosphere than a usual school activity. The kids loved it, and it has become something special,” Cartier said, adding that they may consider it again as children who have asthma, as they were able to participate alongside their friends. This event could be held during any time of the year.

To help reach its $18,000 goal, Welby, like other schools, offered incentives for the students, many donated from local businesses. The prizes ranged from restaurant gift cards to Epic video truck parties as well as schoolwide incentives such as Principal Aaron Ichimura dressing up as a dinosaur to popping a giant water balloon on him.

Their donations are to support radKIDS, Reflections, literacy night and other school activities, and if their contributions topped their goal, they would do “something special,” Cartier said, adding that in the past it was for the school to put on a Disney, Jr. musical.

Students at South Jordan Elementary were bright as they ran laps around their school yard, wearing bright-colored T-shirts to support the theme, “Together we shine.”

South Jordan held two jog-a-thons to accommodate all students at the year-round school — and that meant even more miles for Principal Ken Westwood, who joins the students running.

“Last year, he ran 13 miles,” PTA jog-a-thon coordinator Megan Stohl said. “He chases kids, sprays them with silly string and has a lot of fun with him — and wears his big hat.”

While some enjoy the goofiness and friendship, other students are serious about running, Stohl said.

“One sixth-grade boy got in 20 laps; most kids get in 10 to 15,” she said. “It can get pretty competitive for those who want to push it and get in as many laps as they can. Some veteran students know how many laps they did last year and gear up to beat it this year. But our goal is that they be healthy, be prepared to run and to have fun.”

It’s an event that “typically brings in $25,000 to $30,000” for field trips, Meet the Masters, family dance party and other school activities, and one that “brings our community — neighbors, friends, family, teachers, students — together.”