St. Anthony students training for 2 events

St. Anthony School in Oconto Falls has started a running and walking club, with the purpose of having fun and being active.

The club, composed of 28 second- to fifth-graders, meets two to three times a week after school. They have practiced rain or shine, or even snow, since March 30 and will continue practicing until June 2. They run on the west side trail along the river or on the track at Memorial Field.

Members are training for two events. The first is Dash O.F. Color, a 3-mile walk/run sponsored by the Oconto Falls Lioness Club on Saturday, May 28. Seventy people have registered to represent St. Anthony’s, and the school hopes to win the award for largest team.

Students also are training for the 6-mile Bellin Run on Saturday, June 11. Eighteen have registered from St. Anthony’s, including students, parents and Principal Kate Sayers.

The running club will train at ST Paper Stadium at Oconto Falls High School on Friday, May 20, to experience running on the new track. On Monday, May 23, they will train on an Oconto County River Trail. Those who have committed to 6 miles, will run 6 miles that day. Those who have committed to 3, 4 or 5 miles will run or walk that far on the field trip.

Each day at practice the children sign in and write down their daily goal.

“I have told the kids that I don’t care what their goal is, as long as they finish it,” said coach Jamie Haines. “No whining, and have fun.”

Award ceremonies are held every other week, and awards are presented to the students who reached their mile markers. The awards are based on the colors of the rainbow. Red awards and a red snack for one mile; orange for two miles; yellow for three; green for four; blue for five and purple for six miles. Three students have earned their purple award.

“It has been eye opening running and creating this program to see the kids’ eyes light up when they realize just how much they can do. I do not care if they run or walk, as long as they finish their own personal daily goal,” Haines said.

Students also sign a mile award board and ring a cow bell.

“Why a cow bell?” Haines said. “Well, it’s loud and fun. Why not?”

Travis Kopke helps coach the club, and parent volunteers and St. Anthony alumni in middle school and high school assist with the program.