Many elementary school moms and dads dreaded changing elementary schools before the start of this school year.
But Denise Sundquist, a mom of three children - two "graduates" of Riverside Elementary School and a second-grader, Kathryn, now at Lowell Elementary School, wrote the Dispatch recently about a positive outcome of this change:
"We live near Riverside Drive and attended Riverside Elementary for many, many years with my three children. Last spring, all the Riverside Drive families were rerouted to Lowell Elementary. None of this made any sense to us. We loved Riverside and it is our neighborhood school. ... On the first day of school, our hearts ached for Riverside but we were Lowell Tigers now.
"We are eight weeks into school now and can't believe how great the staff has been at Lowell in welcoming our kids. I have to tell you about one teacher at Lowell that is amazing in our children's lives. His name is Carl Schirmer and he is the phy-ed teacher at Lowell. ... My daughter came home from school at the beginning of school and told us about Mr. Schirmer's 100-mile run club. The goal is to have kids run 100 miles by the end of the school year at home to promote lifelong fitness habits and a love of running.
Jamie Wallace (front left), McCale Peterson (center) and Jacob Hodge (far right) led the pack Tuesday of third-graders running in Carl Schirmer's physical education class. Nearly 100 students are participating in the 10th annual Lowell School 100-Mile Running Club. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"All over our neighborhood (Birchwood Lane/McKay Road) you see kids running and slightly out-of-shape moms tagging along. Our kids love logging in their miles and getting praise from Mr. Schirmer on their accomplishments. ...
"Our kids have told us that more kids have participated in Mr. Schirmer's 100-mile club this year than any other year - and by a huge margin."
In the first nine years of Schirmer's Lowell School 100-Mile Running Club, about 30 kids reached the goal.
In this 10th year, nearly 100 students are participating in the program and 32 currently are on pace to reach the 100-mile mark.
Parents believe the program is a great tool in teaching children about setting goals and it carries a positive message about a healthy lifestyle.
McCale Peterson, a Lowell third-grader who used to attend Riverside, has surpassed the 100-mile goal. He's at 124 miles - through Tuesday. He intends to reach 300 miles by the end of the school year. He wants to be on track with classmates who have participated at Lowell since first grade. No one previously in the program had surpassed 100 miles in one school year.
"That's his game plan," said his mom, Kris Peterson. "It's a cool program."
Students learn to break down the 100-mile goal into five-mile increments. They turn in a log sheet to Schirmer and receive a reward for every five miles completed. Larger rewards are given as they reach larger increments - 25 miles, 50 miles and 75 miles. A T-shirt is awarded to those who reach the 100-mile goal.
McCale, who his mom calls a little statistician, logs his quarter-mile times as well - tracking his progress. Brother Broc, a first-grader, has logged 35 miles thus far.
Kris Peterson said it's incredible to see how young children can be so motivated to accomplish a big goal - and to break it down into five-mile incentives.
"It's fun," McCale said. "It's a good thing because it helps you accomplish goals."
With childhood obesity on the rise, Peterson said it's important for children to learn the importance of an active lifestyle.
"It's a cool way to get kids in a great habit," Peterson said. "It's pretty incredible."
Carl Schirmer, Lowell Elementary School physical education teacher, adds stickers to the Lowell School 100-Mile Running Club board for every five miles a student runs. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Schirmer, who has taught 23 years at Lowell and is a longtime assistant cross country, swimming and track coach, said one reason he established the program was to encourage kids to become more active at home and to involve parents or siblings.
Schirmer said he was surprised by the popularity in the program this year. "It's been fun," he said. "This year it's just been exciting."
Of the 98 students participating, only one-third attended Lowell last year.
New students to the school are adjusting well and choosing to become involved in various school activities, such as the 100-mile club.
Schirmer said he didn't witness any children having a problem with the transition to a new elementary school this year.
"I think the kids adapt so quickly," Schirmer said. "The kids just went right in the flow of things."
McCale would be a shining example.
"Lowell is a great school," he said. "A lot of my old friends from Riverside are here but I've met a lot of new friends at Lowell."
KATHI NAGORSKI may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5859.
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