More than 30 elementary students have devoted three hours per week this spring to reading and running outside the classroom. Jacobson Elementary Principal Mark Young helmed the Little Bronco Reading and Running Club for the second time. The club’s time culminated with a 4K run May 30 on the Franklin Grove Heritage Trail through Belmond.
The route started at Main Street, went north (passing near Jacobson where they were cheered on by other students) to the north loop where the racers turned back south to finish at Main Street.
For several months, the students and four adults have been running about 30 minutes three times a week (after school on Mondays and Wednesdays, and before school on Fridays) and then retiring to the elementary school library for a healthy snack and 30 minutes of reading.
Young started a similar program when he was an assistant principal in Mason City. When he took the job at Jacobson, Young said a running and reading club for upper elementary students “was one of my goals.”
This year, 34 students participated in the club, and 31 of them completed the 4K (about 2.7 miles) last month. They were accompanied by Young, Guidance Counselor Anne Plagge, Aide Irma Terry, and Angelica Flores, a parent volunteer who completed the Boston Marathon earlier this year. Every participant received a club t-shirt.
Four of Young’s club members also participated in The Stu, a four-mile race held during the North Iowa Band Festival, and all four medalled. Griffin Paulsen won the 11-12 year old division; Kyson Lamb placed second in the 10 and under age category, while Saul Duran and Cash Young tied for third in that age group. “They are all good, good runners,” Young commented.
The Stu Neverman family waived the entry fee for the Belmond-Klemme youth and donated shirts for the entire club.
Young, who was on Mason City High School’s cross country team that won back-to-back state championships, took up running again after a 30-year layoff. “The Stu was my first official race back in 2012, four months after I restarted my running regimen,” Young said. He has completed nine marathons in the past five years.