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Berkeley Elementary guidance counselor gets kids up and running.
Berkeley Elementary Running Club members get fired up before taking on the course around the school.
photos by PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Breana Donnell likes to run and just finished her third year with Berkeley's club.
Her brother, Bryson, a third-grader, had a less health-conscious reason for taking part. He said he did it "because my mom made me [join] with my sister."
But he said at the season-ending party last week that he had enjoyed it.
Kestrel Malo's older stepsister inspired her, she said.
And fourth-grader Madison Pittman was not only inspired to participate but set a goal of besting her big sister.
She succeeded and now holds the school record for girls in the mile run with a time of 6:16--three seconds faster than Caitlynn Madison.
Berkeley's running club has grown from about 20 children in 2004 to 70 this year, Bramlett said.
Smith Station Elementary started a program this year.
About 70 children signed up, with an average of 50 turning out each Tuesday morning to run before school, said physical education paraeducator Sherry Ruffner-Slack.
She said her six-week program serves as a training regimen for youngsters to take part in the 1-mile "Great Pumpkin Chase Race" held each October at Berkeley.
Robert E. Lee Elementary has a long-term program that runs year-round, before school, one day a week with 40 to 50 students.
And Lee Hill Elementary is in its third year with a program PTO President Kassie Palmer said is so popular organizers must hold a lottery to determine participants.
She said 120 students wanted to take part this year but they had to limit it to 75 for the days they must come indoors because of weather. The program runs two days a week in both fall and spring.
"The interest is huge and it hasn't dropped off," Palmer said.
Berkeley fifth-grader Logan Kern just finished his third season and said he took part hoping it would help him with his goal of playing football as a sixth-grader.
"I thought it would be a good idea for me to get stronger and build endurance," he said.
His brother Alex, now a seventh-grader, is among the former runners who volunteer with the club.
Their mother, Bethany Kern, thinks the program is wonderful.
"It builds so much self-esteem and they have so much fun doing it," she said.
Renee Pittman is also a fan of the program her daughters have enjoyed and appreciates Coach Bramlett's approach.
"He always knows how to get the kids up and moving--energized," she said. "He builds their confidence and it doesn't matter if they're first place or last place, it's just about finishing."
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972