A typical school day at Cahill Elementary includes all of the traditional three Rs, but on October 18 the Cougars tried their hand — or make that their feet — at another one: running.
To kick off the following day’s PTA-sponsored Fifth Annual Cahill Classic 5K fundraiser, students spent their physical education classes running a 1K, the equivalent of two laps around the school playing fields. Physical education teacher Steve Below added excitement to the run with hurdles and a Hula Hoop agility course.
Sixth graders were the first to take the field on what Principal Susan Gies called a “picture-perfect” autumn day with a touch of lingering summer warmth. With shouts of encouragement for each other and an occasional morale boost from motorists honking their horns in support while driving by on Lafayette Avenue, the students ran, jogged, walked, and sometimes danced and skipped their way through far more than two laps.
“You pushed yourselves,” Below told them. “Good job.”
Several students ran nearly the equivalent of a 5K. Among them was sixth grade student Graeme Knisell, who was the first to finish the 1K with a time of 8:50. Graeme and classmate Ethan Via-Pietrzak ultimately ran almost three miles in 26 minutes.
“I like running,” Graeme said, declaring that he felt “good” after his laps.
Below explained that running is a regular part of his classes. Students typically warm up with a lap and a half around the fields.
In the coming years, Below plans to jazz up the 1K even more with music and additional obstacles.
“We’ll make it a little more fun, more interesting,” he said.
In addition to being an opportunity for physical activity and fun, the 1K raised money, too. Schools are increasingly turning away from catalogue and candy sales, choosing instead to have students obtain sponsorships for healthy activities.
The Cahill PTA pioneered this movement in Saugerties with the launch of the 5K in 2009 and the 1K has become a powerful fundraiser in its own right, accounting for about half of the $16,000-plus collected through the two races.
“I think everybody understands that the 1K is a major fundraiser,” said race organizer and PTA member Jennifer Mangione.
New bicycles for the four top producing students and a lunch party for every class that raised more than $1,000 were also big incentives.
The money brought in by the two races will fund everything from assemblies and field trips to the spring carnival, classroom events, and technology purchases.
Below praised the students for their efforts in seeking sponsors and told them, “The money all goes back to you.”
Mangione said the races “really pulled our school together in a healthy way. The kids come across so proud of themselves. It’s such a great community event.”