The Suburbanite
  • Schrop students run toward fitness

  • It wasn’t just about winning the race, but about what students of Schrop Intermediate School Running Club got out of preparing for the race.

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  • It wasn’t just about winning the race, but about what students of Schrop Intermediate School Running Club got out of preparing for the race.
    Members of the Running Club raced at Springfield Bog May 21. Although the first five girls and first five boys received awards, the real prize was the fun they had preparing and the physical activity they received doing it.
    Physical education teacher Betty Kern had a goal in mind when she began the club during the fall of 2011-12 school year: To get kids to be more active.
    “With our schedule, we only have physical education once a week. It is not enough activity,” said Kern, noting running is something they can do for the rest of their lives. “It gets them moving and having a good time. It gets them to enjoy running and be healthier.”
    Kern was pleasantly surprised when she began the club. A quarter of the school showed up to participate.
    “That is really good. Especially because it is an after school event and also parents have to pick their children up,” Kern said.
    About 100 students participate during the fall session and a little less in the spring due to other spring sports.
    Schrop Principal Lisa Vardon said, “Running Club gives students a chance to connect with other students that they may never come into contact with during the regular school day.”
    She added it is a great way to add exercise to a student’s day.
    “If exercise is introduced early into a child’s life, the hope is that the child will continue to make exercise a part of their daily routine,” Vardon said. “Running club allows students from different grade levels to come together to exercise after school.”
    The club is open to all Schrop students. There are no requirements as to how many times students have to come to run per week, however in order to participate in the race, they must come 25 times throughout the six weeks of after school running.
    They have to be in shape to run the race.
    “We had records set for both the boys and the girls during this race. That was fun,” Kern said. “The first year we had some times over 30 minutes. Our slowest time this year was 27 minutes. We have seen improvement as a whole for the group.”
    When Athletic Director Kevin Vaughn came to recruit for junior high school sports, a lot of students signed up for cross-country.
    “The running club, developed by Betty, has been a positive addition to the young students of the Springfield District,” Vaughn said. “Betty has taken pride in introducing and reinforcing to the students the importance of living an active lifestyle.”
    Kern began running in seventh-grade at Springfield when she went out for track. She is a graduate of Springfield High School and also ran at Malone College.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It has been a big part of my life and I love to pass that on,” Kern said.
    She has been teaching at Springfield Schools for 25 years. A career highlight was when Kern was in the hallway at school and about 15 boys ran up to her and gave her a group hug because they were so excited that running club was starting that night.
    “There are a lot of kids that just love it and are really into it,” Kern said.
    Kern has applied for a couple of grants to help fund the running club. She wants to get as many students as possible to keep active.
    “In our nation, as a whole, we have a problem with childhood obesity and inactivity,” Kern said. “If a kid is not in an organized sport they often do not get enough activity outside of school. I want to reach those kids and get them involved in an activity they can do anywhere. Also, they may pursue cross-country and track in junior high and high school.”
    She added that Vardon has been very supportive of the program.
    They students work hard, but Kern said it is cool to see how much they love it as well as hearing goodthings back from parents. She added that some of the shy students have come out of their shells because they have found something they have in common with other kids.
    “We had positive feedback from the Park Rangers about the event and the children. It was very nice,” Kern said.
    The rangers told Kern that it will help with park attendance, with the Springfield Bog being a newer Metro Park.
    The first five boys and girls to cross the finish line received hoodies with the club logo. Ritchie’s Sporting Goods, Summit Athletic Running Club, Kohl’s Community Fitness, a program out of Akron Children’s Hospital and the Summit County Public Health Department provided help for the event in a number of ways.
    “Betty’s enthusiasm toward the sport of running has been contagious and we are seeing the results in the athletic department with more interest and participation in cross-country and track,” Vaughn said. “We are fortunate to have Betty Kern in the district, she is a positive influence to those that she interacts with,”
    Kern also has a before school walking club open to all Schrop students. Member of the Running club and Walking Club, Larry Ritterbeck has walked more than 150 miles since January.
    “It is all positive for the kids,” said Kern.

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