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Kids bond over 50-meter dashes, chain of shoes for Guinness book

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Mountain View Middle School teacher Ashley Wilson high-fives student Cameryn Calhoun during the Planet Run event on Friday. Wilson organized students to set the world record for 100-meter dashes in three hours.As any parent or teacher is well aware, corralling even a small group of children into an organized activity can be a challenge akin to herding cats. It helps, of course, when the activity involves running outside in between Friday classes.

That’s what Ashley Wilson found on Oct. 26, when the Mountain View Middle School humanities teacher got 773 of the school’s 840 students to run the 100-meter dash — in groups — between noon and 3 p.m. The students’ legs were pumping as part of a global effort to set a Guinness World Record with 5,000 people running 100 meters in the three-hour period.

Sponsored by National Geographic’s “Kids” magazine, the “Run for the Planet” initiative — designed to encourage physical fitness and healthy activity — is also taking on the Guinness record for the longest chain of shoes.

To that end, Mountain View students by Friday afternoon had filled five shopping carts full of discarded sneakers. They plan to send the still-growing collection to National Geographic Society headquarters by Nov. 9 to help reach the record-breaking goal of 25,000. The cast-off footwear will be recycled into surface material for athletic fields and tracks.by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Mountain View Middle School teacher Ashley Wilson hops on one of five shopping carts filled with donated shoes. Wilson helped spearhead the drive as part of an attempt to create the world's longest line of shoes.

Wilson learned about the event through her daughter’s subscription to “Kids” magazine. She successfully sold the afternoon endeavor to her fellow humanities teachers and Mountain View Principal Claudia Ruf, as a novel, inspiring activity in an era when budget woes have made such things a rarity.

“We don’t do field trips anymore,” she said. “There are not a lot of fun, enriching activities we can afford to do. When we can, we take advantage of them. I’m always looking for simple ways for students to get involved.”

While the wild cheering on the play area behind the school may have indicated otherwise, the participating students were engaged in learning and life-building skills.

“Events like these help build a sense of community among all of the students at Mountain View and give them an opportunity to learn team work,” Wilson said. “It is not often that all three grade levels get to commingle and participate in a school-wide event.”

As sixth-grader Nikola Djurdjevic noted, the looseness of the run is what made it fun.

“It’s pretty cool,” the 11-year-old said. “Everybody gets to participate. It’s not a race. You can walk, jog and skip through it — anything you want.”

Based on sixth-grader Josh Stevens’ review, one gets the feeling it’d be fine with him if the 100-meter, record-setting dash were held every day.

“It was awesome,” he said, giving full credit to Wilson’s efforts. “She put a lot into this. She really focused on it. She wants us to have fun out there. It’s pretty cool she can do that for us. This is fun!”

Principal Ruf said she liked Wilson’s idea when she first proposed it.

“Any opportunity we can give the kids, when they can do something different and help them give back to the community and be more aware of what’s going on around the world — that’s something we want to provide as many opportunities as we can,” she said.

The principal praised the shoe recycling aspect as something that could be a yearly endeavor at Mountain View.

“It would be great if this were something we looked forward to every year,” she said. “Not only the 100-yard dash (but) the longest line of tennis shoes. It would be great if the kids started now. When they grow out of their shoes, they can start saving them, and we’ll be able to participate in that realm as well.”

Wilson’s not sure exactly how Mountain View may be recognized for its part in contributing 773 of the 5,000 worldwide runners and about 300 pairs of shoes, for which she credited Smith-Western Inc. of Portland for paying the approximately $200 to ship to the Guinness World Records office in Washington, D.C.

Regardless of how the students’ efforts are documented, she noted, the event was worthwhile if only for the camaraderie it inspired.

“It was really great to see eighth-graders cheering on sixth-graders as they crossed the finish line,” she said. “That’s the first time I’ve seen that kind of co-mingling and cheering going on.”by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Sixth-graders at Mountain View Middle School take off at the starting line as part of the school's 'Run for the Planet' event on Friday. The students were trying to help set the world record for most 100-meter dashes in a three-hour period.

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