Until recently, one hurdle facing the students at Hickerson Elementary School had been finding a safe place to walk and run; that is until the completion of a concrete walkway that circles the playground behind the school.
“We needed somewhere for the students to run and walk out here,” said school nurse Angela Ridner. “It was really muddy on the days that it rained.”
The initial funds for the project, approximately $4,000, came from a Fuel Up to Play 60 grant.
“We found out this was going to cost a whole lot more than that, so we decided we would have a pageant,” she said.
With the funds from the Miss Buttercup Pageant, several other supplementary grants and donations from the community, the school gathered the necessary funds to complete the track.
“It took physically a week to build the track,” said Hickerson Principal Jimmy Anderson, “but a solid year of fundraising.”
Since then students have trained for the Music City Marathon, and the school’s walking club uses the track as well as the physical education classes.
“It’s been great,” Ridner said. “It teaches physical activity and helps get the students outside.”
Coffee County Schools Director of Health Services Janet Thornton adds, “We like to encourage a healthy lifestyle and teach them healthy habits at a young age so they will continue to live healthy as they become adults.”
She said that physical activity helps reduce childhood obesity and leads students to become healthier individuals.
Thornton explained that the Fuel Up to Play 60 grant is part of a larger program that helps fund health-centered activities through a partnership between Purity Dairies, the Southeast United Dairy Industry and the NFL.
“It is a program that our whole county school system is involved in that promotes 60 minutes of physical activity every day and to teach children to make good, healthy food choices.
“It’s a good program and a blessing that we have that resource.”
A ribbon cutting, attended by Thornton, County Mayor David Pennington, commissioner Keith Thacker and the school PTO was held Tuesday to officially open the track dubbed the Hickerson Hawks Fast Track.
The name for the track originated with a search contest won by third-grader Catorie Casbon.
She was on hand to cut the ribbon and lead the running club’s dedication lap.
Anderson shared, during the ceremony, the school’s gratitude for the sponsors, parents and students help raising funds for the project. And the students’ patience while the playground was blocked by construction.
Following the ceremony, the school held a Hawk Walk fundraiser to help raise money for classroom technology.