By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
WARWICK >> Hundreds of Owen J. Roberts School District elementary students sprinted from the start line at they raced through Warwick County Park for an annual run.
The school district has been organizing an after-school running event since 1972. Retired health and physical education teacher Terry Stouffer began the program more than 40 years ago, said Jo-an Rechtin, the district’s community engagement consultant and wellness coordinator.
Last week, about 250 students in 4th, 5th and 6th grade participated in this year’s Elementary Fun Run. Students were bused from all five of the school district’s elementary schools to the park. Warwick County Park is the home field for the Owen J. Roberts High School varsity cross country team.
Members of the team helped guide the younger students in some pre-run warm-ups and lead them through the race course. Fourth and fifth graders ran for one mile while sixth graders ran 1.8 miles which is the distance the middle school cross country team runs. All participants received ribbons and medals were given to top finishers in each grade.
Senior Teneisha Myers is a member of the high school cross country team. Myers said she hopes the annual run motivates the younger students to join the cross country team when they get older.
“It (the annual run) just reminds me when I was that young and started running. I remember doing this race actually when I was in 4th grade,” she said. “It’s just nice to see where you start and where you end.”
Senior Jane Lasak, also on the high school’s cross country team, said she likes the environment that running on a team creates. Lasak said everyone cheers for one another and even competitors wish you good luck.
Each of the school district’s five elementary schools has a RUN 101 club due to a grant from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation, Recthin said.
The fitness program is for girls and boys in grades third through sixth. The club is a non-competitive introduction to running.
“It has morphed over the years and attracted more students offering a fun exposure to the life sport of running,” Recthin said.