Hillsboro hosts 'track meet'
Hundreds of students crossed the finish line and cheered on their teammates last week, during Hillsboro School District's inaugural "Hillsboro Healthy Kids Elementary Track Meet" at Hare Field.
Students in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades from Free Orchards, Lincoln Street, W.L. Henry, Eastwood, Brookwood, and Reedville elementary schools gathered to participate in the first-ever track meet, where they got the opportunity to represent their feeder high school.
"The idea here is for them to start to get a sense of pride around which high school they are going to," said Rian Petrick, Hillsboro's director of extracurricular programs. "For a lot of them, it's so far away that it's not necessarily something they think about."
Since spring break, students have been participating in an after-school program — sponsored by Nike — which promotes healthy activity and wellness. Students learned about their own health from Providence Sports Medicine and have learned the fundamentals of several track and field events.
The program is a new approach to Hillsboro's work to know each student by "name, strength and need," Petrick said, and aims to get kids engaged with extracurricular activities as much as possible.
As well as building school-pride, Petrick said the program is a good opportunity to provide fun after-school activities to students who may not otherwise be involved in anything outside of school.
"We don't really have any sports programs at the elementary level, particularly in schools that are low-income," he said. "We wanted to provide the opportunity to get kids out, get them involved and get them active."
At Thursday's meet, students participated in the 100-meter dash, 400-meter, long jump and "stick-jumping," a modified version of pole vaulting that caters better to beginners. Students were assisted in the stick-jumping event by Steve Thomas, who coaches pole vault athletes on the U.S. Olympic Team, Petrick said.
The event brought about 325 students to Hare Field, along with many family members and friends cheering from the stands.
"We would love to expand this in the future," Petrick said. "Next year we are hoping to make this bigger and better."
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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