Third graders running seconds after the start of the run

In gym class at Whitemarsh Elementary School, students have been working on running, building their stamina, and learning what pace works best for them — all to prepare for the school’s annual Smile Mile.

“Smile Mile helps students set goals and establish a habit of lifelong fitness,” said WES Health and Physical Education teacher Jeff Yeakel. “Some kids might not want to be part of a team sport like baseball or basketball, but they enjoy running.”

On May 20, the children took buses to the Plymouth Whitemarsh High School track. After a couple minutes of stretches, the kindergarteners and first graders ran a half mile, or two laps around the track, and the second and third graders ran the full mile. 

“My favorite thing was running with my teacher Mrs. Genkin,” said WES Kindergartener Matia Klimowicz, who ran the half mile in six minutes and 18 seconds. 

Students who completed the distance logged their time and then helped cheer for the remaining runners. Some even got back on the track to help motivate their friends to finish. 

“I love watching all the kids do their best,” said Mrs. Genkin, who also runs for fun and to raise money for charity. “Kids that never excelled in athletics are able to do their best in this activity.”

Mrs. Genkin's class sitting on the field after the run