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A team of volunteers from the Oregon Child Development Coalition rake bark dust into a running trail Friday at Henry Hill Elementary School in Independence.
August 21, 2012
INDEPENDENCE -- Students who arrive early for school at Henry Hill Elementary should have an increased chance to boost their exercise endorphins this year.
Whether or not teachers will appreciate this added energy is yet to be determined.
Thanks to the Central School District, an ever-growing Zumba class and a hardworking group of volunteers, HHES now has its own bark dust track, installed Friday.
"We used to have a program called 'Morning Milers,'" HHES Principal Sharon Tebb said. "We'll probably try to reinstate that, plus help keep track of (the kids') mileage during recess."
Students won't be the only ones benefiting from the 1/5-mile circular track located just behind the school's playground area.
HHES staff and community members are also welcomed to use the track, which uses the same trail material as Salem's Bush's Pasture Park.
"It's open to everyone -- anyone who wants to can use it," Henry Hill Elementary School teacher Erica Manzo said.
Manzo, who leads the "Zumba at Henry Hill" program, was one of the main forces behind the project.
The need for a place to exercise closer to where the five-day-a-week Zumba classes meet -- inside the HHES gym -- was a primary drive.
"Most of our parents walk to Zumba -- they don't drive," Manzo said of the classes, which mainly feature HHES staff and parents, along with their children.
"During the summertime last year, we would walk to (Central High) school and do some running and walking, encouraging parents to be more active," she added.
"We thought, 'Why don't we do something closer to our neighborhood?'"
The Zumba program and the school district donated the money for the bark dust, and volunteers like Don Spinas, who donated his tractor to dispense the material, finished the job Friday.
Members of the Oregon Child Development Coalition also helped with the installation of the track.
"In the heat, yeah," responded 13-year-old Riley Baney, a former HHES student, to the question if the job, which required raking out the material, was difficult.
Baney, who now goes to school in the Nestucca Valley School District but was in the area visiting his grandfather, said the track should go to good use.
"It (will) keep them busy, keep them from getting hyper like I was," Baney added.