Our program started in 2004 at Skyridge Elementary School in Auburn. Read more about the beginnings of the Running School "movement".
Skyridge (500 students, grades K-5) has several fabulous programs in place that have dramatically impacted the overall fitness and healthy lifestyle elements of the students and serve as the model for Running School. Trekkers takes place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at lunchtime. Kids come to the athletic field, receive their personal mileage card, and have their laps recorded by devoted parent volunteers like program coordinator Theresa Saraceni. Many top performers accumulate over 50 miles miles over the course of the school year.
“Cross Country Team” (fall) and “Track Team” (spring) are six-week programs where students meet twice per week after school for one hour. Runners engage in drills, stretching, technique instruction, relay races, fun&games and timed competitions. The Skyridge Olympics is held four to six times annually, where each class contests a half-mile race and 40-yard sprint race, with each child’s time recorded. The school also holds an annual Jog-A-Thon as a major PTC fundraiser. In 2006, Running School coach and Skyridge parent Staci Haswell established a new festival format where kids completed laps around a course filled with obstacles and fun challenges.
While the competition at the front of the pack in the Olympics is fierce and exciting, some of the loudest cheers are reserved for those at the back of the pack who complete the entire half-mile and for the role-modeling teachers who accompany their students over the course.
Over the course of the school year, it’s not uncommon to see children’s times improve by several minutes over the half-mile course. Everyone from the record setting prodigies to the kids who eventually complete the course without walking, can experience the blissful feeling of improved performance and enhanced physical fitness.
Perhaps most rewarding of all is noticing children,
after the formal competition is over, begging to be timed again and again in the
sprint race or even have another go at the half-mile distance course! The broad acceptance of the Olympics across all ability levels, and the tremendous participation in a completely voluntary, no-frills Trekkers, Cross Country and Track programs with minimal incentives (necklace pendants for reaching five-mile increments in Trekkers; Cross Country/Track runners receive a certificate, race winners a T-shirt), proves that presenting kids with an opportunity to run and achieve measurable goals is met with a wonderful reception. Kids think “Running’s Chool!”