December 15, 2013

Blue Ridge Running Club gets students moving

By Lindsey Derrick Dalton Public Schools contributor

— On Tuesdays and Thursdays kids fill the gym at Blue Ridge School by 8 a.m. before the day's classes begin. They aren’t early to school because they were told to be there. And they aren’t there to earn some sort of goodies. They want to be there to participate in the school's Running Club.

The Running Club at Blue Ridge has been going on for four years and came about after the success of Run for John, an annual race that has taken place since Dalton High graduate John Bruner died in 2007.

The club kicked off the year in August and will stay active until the end of school at the end of May. Children who attend Running Club must have eaten beforehand, and the activities start around 8 a.m. and end around 8:20. The club has had 130 kids show up at one time before, but the average number is 50.

There are five stations that take place after the children warm up with stretches. The stations include running cones, burpees, jumping jacks and hula hoops. Blue Ridge speech pathologist Beth Davis said she has heard praise from other teachers on how Running Club helps focus the students.

“It helps set the tone for the day,” Davis said. “I’ve had teachers say they love Tuesdays and Thursdays because some of the kids that struggle with behavior are so much better. Teachers have even seen improvements academically.”

One person who has been key to keep the Running Club up and going is Margie Bruner, John’s mother. Bruner, a school system school psychologist, is now the cross country coach at Dalton State College.

“They really break a sweat,” Bruner said of the kids that come to Running Club, “and they’re not sitting in front of the TV.”

Ten-year-old Daniel Baltazar said he loves doing something that he enjoys. “My favorite sport is running, he said. “It’s my dream to run track.”

Kolbey Burse, a fourth-grader, has been coming to Running Club since she was in the first grade. “I like to run,” she said. “It helps with exercise, speed and flexibility. I’m going to keep running next year.”