Students test themselves at Spirit Day Run

Published 5:47 am Saturday, October 23, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Cold winds and cloudy skies couldn't break the spirit of the students at Ballard Elementary School Friday.
Hundreds of students at the school put themselves to the test when they took part in the school's ninth annual 1.5 mile Spirit Day run.
The first Spirit Day run was held in 1995 due to the initiative of Ron Gunn, Dean at Southwestern Michigan College's Fitness and Wellness Department, who at the time had children in school at Ballard. The school's physical education teacher, Linda Kujawa, carries on the tradition of the run.
Participating in the run is completely voluntary and every student who completes the 1.5 mile course receives a Spirit Day run t-shirt and certificate.
The run is open to students in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grades.
The top five boy and girl runners in each grade receive a medal for their accomplishments.
Second grade students participate in a "fun run" around the school's track.
Students who don't participate in the run show their spirit by coming out every year to cheer on their fellow classmates. Parents also get into the act when they come out to watch their kids. This year, over twenty parents came out to the school to cheer their children on. "It's a really neat opportunity for the kids and the school to come together and have a good time," Tim Bagby, Ballard's assistant principal said.
When asked why he runs in the Spirit Day run, sixth grade first place finisher Pierce Knoll, 11, said he just enjoys running.
Sixth grader Jordan Potthoff, 12, wanted to see if he could finish the 1.5 mile run.
Alyssa Schuettpelz, 11, said she runs just for the fun of it.
Dana Delmuro, 12, pushes herself to bear last year's score every year she runs.
Delmuro has improved every year she has run and this year, she took third place among the sixth grade girls.
Bagby said the run is great because it helps the kids improve their self-esteem.
Kujawa wanted to thank all 17 sponsors of the run, whose contributions paid for the t-shirts, certificates, and medals the students received.