Feats of the feet
Oak Hills students awarded for 100-plus miles run in 2011-12 school year
As a fourth-grader last year, Cooper Bond didn't do much running, but some of his classmates at Oak Hills Elementary School did.
Fourth-graders ran far enough, in fact, to continue a trend of dominance in the school's 'On the Move' fitness challenge that Bond, as a fifth-grader, determined he would end.
'I was motivated. I wanted to be one of the top runners,' he says. 'And the fourth-graders won the last few years, and I wanted to beat the fourth-graders.'
Logging in 154 miles on the track this school year, the 11-year-old achieved his goal with flying colors.
Bond was recognized in a Monday morning ceremony, along with 119 fellow students at Oak Hills who achieved 'Marathon' status or better for running at least 26.2 miles on the school's quarter mile asphalt track. Fourteen were named 'Ultra Runners,' a new category this year, for racking up 100 miles or more. Both Marathon and Ultra Runners received maroon-colored 'On the Run' T-Shirts.
'On the Move at Oak Hills' started in 2003 as the brainchild of Jennifer Ordt, the parent of an Oak Hills student and current Beaverton School District teacher. The initial idea was to provide an outlet for students diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder to release excess energy, says Lynn Asbury, now in her second year as parent coordinator of On the Move.
'In the beginning of the school year, we start fresh with new cards on which students track their miles,' up to 20 per card, she says. 'For every lap they run, they keep a tally for the first three laps. On the fourth, we hole-punch it, so it's a little more permanent.'
Students receive a toe token for every 3 miles accumulated, and are eligible for a prize for every 5 miles. Most of the running takes place Tuesdays through Thursdays during lunch recess on the track.
Split between fitness and nutritional goals, the program's funding comes from $3,000 in grants from the National Dairy Council and the National Football League.
Of the school's 632 students, more than 400 ran five miles or more this year. With 60 students achieving Marathon status last year, that number doubled to 120 runners in the 2011-12 school year.
'It's a good thing to teach kids about goal setting and how to stay physically active,' Asbury says, noting the program's motto is 'Go Run 2,' referring to two laps. 'It's really picked up quite a bit. The teachers have been very supportive and Cheryl (Hagseth), the principal, has been super supportive. We set a goal for kids to earn their marathon shirts by Thanksgiving.'
Fourth-grader Mia Middleton was recognized Monday for accumulating 147 miles, placing her just behind Bond's 154. The 10-year-old's favorite part?
'Probably being able to be with friends and to challenge my friends,' she says.
Her biggest frustration is that more boys than girls tend to participate.
'More girls need to run a lot,' she says. 'They say they don't want to do it, but I say just go run anyway. They try to make excuses, but I'm trying to get a lot of them to run.'
Hagseth, who has served as Oak Hills principal for six years, praises On the Move as a physical pathway to engage more students in the classroom.
'We really try to promote health and physical education so we have higher performing students,' she says.
On the Move's nutritional component, run by Jennifer Hyatt, was recognized by the National Dairy Council, drawing Anthony Newman, a retired National Football League defensive back, to Oak Hills to promote the 'Fuel Up to Play 60' program. Sponsored by the dairy council, the NFL and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Fuel Up encourages students to engage in at least 60 minutes of exercise every day, instead, Hagseth says, 'of going home and playing video games.'
'I've been really impressed with the commitment (of On the Run students),' she adds. 'They're out there, rain or shine. While their friends are playing four square or wall ball, they're out there running.'
Bond admits being this year's top On the Move Ultra Runner 'feels pretty good,' but concedes it was a challenge to keep running while fun temptations beckoned.
'I had to run a lot,' he says, 'when I really wanted to play with friends.'