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Students Pound The Pavement
Conditions were just about perfect as students at Dent Elementary School hit the track and playground on Friday for the school's jog-a-thon, staged to raise money for school field trips and special student assemblies.

"I don't know if they all had pledges," second grade teacher Susan Judson said as her class completed their time on the track, running laps. "But they gave it their all."

Students secured pledges, either by the lap or just by a straight donation, to help raise money for their school. All classes took part, from kindergarten through fifth grade, with the event starting at 845 a.m. and running though 11:20 a.m.

Different portions of the school grounds were used, with the track hosting several groups and makeshift courses, organized with cones and parent volunteer helpers to guide the runners, situated on the playgrounds.

"Look at all the sweat here," Judson said, commending her students for their efforts. "We've told them that it's very important to have the extra things at school, to do the fundraisers like this."

She said many youngsters took pride in bringing funds in to the school through their efforts in the jog-a-thon.

"We did this instead of the spell-a-thon," added PTA spokesperson Jeanne McCulley. "It all goes toward field trip funds and we wanted to see how it went, it's looking like we had a great turnout."

Based on the success of this jog-a-thon, officials said it likely will become an annual fundraiser for the elementary school.

More than 850 student were involved altogether.

"Teachers are having those conversations in class," Principal Kendra Helsley said of students learning about the need for the jog-a-thon. "It also goes along with the new state guidelines for health and wellness so it seems like a good fit."

There is also a new 'Marathon Club' at Dent, with voluntary running on the track at lunch recess. Teachers help students keep track of their progress, charting how far they go each day they run.

"It all seemed to fall together," Helsley said of bringing the jog-a-thon to campus this year.

She said hopes are that the fundraiser will bring in as much as the spell-a-thon typically does and it is just one of the efforts the school is making to raise additional cash to finance field trips and student activities.

Office aide Debbie Teixeira, in fact, put together a packet of fundraising programs the school is involved in, from the S.H.A.R.E. cards at several supermarkets that result in a percentage of the purchase price of items being returned to the school to Box Tops for Education. Also, Target cards can be used for a return to the school, purchasing books online at Barnes and Noble will result in some cash for the school and shopping online through Marketplace Checkout Challenge also helps the district. Dent also recycles used printer ink cartridges and old cell phones and participates in the Save Mart Apples for the Students program.

Helsley said while school budgets are being cut back, it's even more important to make sure that students aren't shortchanged.

"It's good for the kids to get out in the world, to experience the world instead of just hearing about it," she said of working to provide a variety of field trips for students.

She added that the community has been supportive of the school's fundraising efforts and hopes they will continue that trend.

"Every little bit helps," Helsley said. "Every bit kicked back is helpful in these troubled economic times."