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Jordan Ridge students run to raise funds for field trips, technology

Oct 05, 2017 10:22AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Jordan Ridge students raised funds for their school by taking pledges for each lap they ran at the school’s jog-a-thon. (Melissa Beck/Jordan Ridge)

Not every principal — especially one who is new to a school — would wear a rooster beak and peck at anything on stage. Nor would a Parent-Teacher Association president appear as a demi-god. But that’s what happened at Jordan Ridge as they embraced the theme of “Moana” and performed a skit to encourage students to see “how far I’ll go” to get pledges during the school’s fourth annual jog-a-thon.

“I happened to have a rooster mask, and I was game to encourage students,” Principal Melissa Beck said. “The students still call me Hei Hei (the rooster’s name in the movie).”

Beck said the school held two jog-a-thons to include all 977 kindergartners through sixth-graders at the year-round school. Before running, students asked families and friends to pledge them as they ran laps on the school’s grounds.

“We had pledges from 50 cents to $5 per lap, and we’d keep track of the number of laps on their backs,” she said.

PTA President Todd Hougaard, who appeared in the skit as Maui, said each lap was about one-tenth of a mile. During the Aug. 8 run, younger students ran for 15 minutes, and older grades ran for 20 minutes. With heat being a concern on Aug. 28, those times were cut back by five minutes, he said.

“I love seeing parents run with their kids, but I especially love seeing younger siblings come and run,” he said. “Some of them who come with their moms to help, end up running more than anybody. They don’t have lap cards to mark, so they’d get marks on their arms. We had two of them that ran about 30 laps during the day.”

Jordan Ridge began the annual jog-a-thon in 2013, patterning it from nearby South Jordan Elementary with the help of parent volunteers, especially Amber Gonzalez, who has been especially involved. While the official amount still was being tallied, Houggard projected the school would make about $25,000.

“We definitely couldn’t do it without all of our great parent volunteers,” he said.

Beck said parents support the jog-a-thon since 100 percent of the pledges go to the school, earmarked so each grade has three field trips in addition to providing more technology for the school.

“We have devices for the students as well as a new NASA lab, which has software so students work together to complete missions,” she said.

Beck, who ran with most of the grades, said that after the jog-a-thon, students received a lei and popsicle to keep with the Moana theme. Students also received a bracelet with the song from the movie, “How far I’ll go.”

Beck, in her first jog-a-thon as principal, said that it is a positive event.

“Every student was smiling out there, just having fun,” she said.

Houggard said his favorite part is when he gave students high-5s on the last turn of their lap.

“I can actually see it motivate the students to run faster and try harder,” he said. “It was even more fun this year playing the part of Maui. I know I don’t really look like him, but the kids play along with it, and they still call me Maui when they see me. When three first-graders see me during recess, come up to me and say, ‘Thanks Maui,’ and give me a hug, I know we’ve done something right. What can I say, except, ‘You’re welcome.’” 

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