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Madison Mighty Milers hit 6,000 mile mark

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MASSENA - Like the Energizer bunny, Madison Elementary students keep running and running and running. In fact, since the beginning of school, students have racked up approximately 6,000 miles.

It is all part of the New York Road Runners’ Mighty Milers program designed to help kids get moving, develop healthy habits, release energy and have fun. According to group’s site (www.nyrr.org), “The program also helps to improve classroom focus and behavior, raise academic performance and test scores, and it meets the state mandated physical education standards for total number of physical activity minutes per week.”

Schools where half or more of the student population is eligible for free or reduced lunches qualify for a free Mighty Milers program. When Madison Elementary physical education teacher Michael Matejcik learned about the program, he wasted no time signing on.

“I read an article in June about this program at another school. I thought it sounded like a really great program that would be very beneficial to the health of our students here at Madison,” Mr. Matejcik said.

Students receive incentives based on the miles they run. Those running the equivalent of a marathon(s) (26.2, 52.4, 78.6 and 104.8 miles) receive a special medal. Classes running a collective 500, 1,000 or 2,500 miles receive a “Congratulations” poster.

Students run as a warm up in physical education class, during recess around the trail and at the end of the day, last period. Students in third through sixth grade have run approximately 4,339 miles. Junior Kindergarten through second grade have added more than 1,600 miles to the total. The school’s parent group is planning to recognize the JK through second grade students for completing one marathon.

As of Nov. 28, Michele Porcaro’s class ran approximately 560.5 miles and received their “Congratulations” poster at the Outstanding Owls Award Assembly. Several students also received individual medals for running the equivalent of a marathon.

Sixth grader Tyler Bacon received two medals for running 73.1 miles since September and is about five miles away from reaching his third marathon.

“Sometimes I come down to the gym at 2:30 p.m. and run around, and sometimes I run at recess. I just run and run and run. I think it helps me focus better in the classroom too. Running makes me feel like I’m my sister for about 15 seconds and then I just want to compete against her – she’s very athletic,” he said.

The medal winners’ feeling of success and pride filled the room during the assembly.

“My family was very supportive of me and they were very proud of me when I got my medal. My grandma even gave me $20. I run because I do want to stay healthy and running makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something,” said Andrew Cichetti.

“My family thinks that this is cool and that I did a really good job earning it. Running helps me with my speed for hockey,” said sixth grader Hunter Baldwin.

“I run because I find it really fun – it makes me feel good. My parents and my family are very proud of me,” said sixth grader Molly Proper.

“My family thinks this is really cool and they are very happy for me. Running makes me feel really good, because when I’m running I feel really energetic. It helps me in class – I can concentrate better than I usually do,” said sixth grader Austin Plante.

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