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A Bush Elementary School fourth-grader receives a medal, courtesy of the Jamestown Lions Club, after completing the final leg of her marathon last week. PJ photo by Scott Kindberg

Students at two area schools recently completed a unique mental and physical challenge by running a marathon.

Yes, 26.2 miles.

One mile at a time.

Spearheaded by Clymer Central School teacher Ray Shrout and Cristin Hockenberry, a fourth-grade teacher at Bush Elementary School in Jamestown, the youngsters ran their final mile at their respective schools last week to complete their journey, which began several months ago.

“We’d run roughly 3 miles a week,” said Shrout, who is Clymer/Sherman/Panama’s cross country and track and field coach. “The planning process started at the end of February. With so many grade levels (second through sixth grades at Clymer), we mapped out how many miles we’d do each week. … Some of our earliest thousands were in mid-to-late March. When we started the process, some kids were running a mile in winter coats and when we finished (last week the temperature) was in the 80s.”

Clymer Central School students receive encouragement from track & field official Tom Priester (in blue) as they prepare to run the final mile of their marathon last week. Submitted photo

The road to the finish line provided other benefits, according to Hockenberry, who also serves as Jamestown’s modified cross country coach and varsity girls track & field coach.

“To start, students learned about a marathon — what it is, what it takes to complete one, and the challenges and joys of finishing a marathon,” she said. “Students then worked to create goals they wanted to accomplish while running their marathon.”

After using Keynote — Apple’s presentation tool to create images, text and charts — to create their goals, the fourth-grade students at Bush began to run 1 mile each day.

“At the conclusion of the mile, students journal about their mile with a focus on how they felt, how it helped their day, what they were thinking, if they were looking forward to the mile and how it has changed their days,” Hockenberry said. “They also chart their mile time each day to show their progress and growth. They have been amazed and so excited each time they improve their mile time.”

Hockenberry said that through the process of running a marathon, students have learned skills to help with self-management (becoming self-driven to improve and to complete the full 26.2 miles), self awareness (how their body is feeling, how they are feeling emotionally, and how to regulate those feelings), and social skills (encouraging classmates, working together to finish, and excitement when classmates run a personal-best).

Fourth-graders at Bush Elementary School in Jamestown pose for a photo after completing the final leg of their marathon last week. PJ photo by Scott Kindberg

“Our motto has been, ‘We can do hard things,’” Hockenberry said, “and students are learning how to take what they are experiencing through running a marathon and applying it to their everyday lives.”

Shrout noted that the Clymer students had log sheets on their lockers where they would record their times.

“A lot of them started setting goals, and talking about how goal setting can be transferred to other areas,” he said.

For the final mile last week, Shrout watched from the press box at the track on the Clymer campus.

“From my vantage point, there were so many kids who ran their PR, and you saw their smiles, their arms in the air and the shocked look on their face when they achieved their personal-best. … To see that sense of pride was really cool.

Clymer Central School students pose for a photo after completing the final leg of their marathon last week. Submitted photo

“For me, as a running coach, I do like to try and recognize the hidden talents we don’t always see.”

NOTES: The Bush Parent-Teacher Association donated funds to purchase T-shirts for the students to wear during the last mile, and the Jamestown Lions Club, represented by Steve Maggio and Jeff Smith, provided funds to purchase medals for each marathoner. … David Reinhardt, director of operations for Trackqua, donated his time to give the Bush Elementary students a true finish-line experience. … In Clymer, proceeds for T-shirts and medals were made possible through a grant. … Shrout gave special thanks to track & field official Tom Priester, who donated his time to serve as a starter.

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