By Kim Walter
WOODSTOCK - Friday afternoon could not have presented better weather for the second annual Patriot Walk at the Shenandoah County Public Schools central campus.
Even though the schools had an early dismissal at 1 p.m., around 100 students and faculty members stayed for some walking and friendly competition.
The event started last year as a way to boost community members' awareness of living a healthy lifestyle. However, it also served as a fundraiser for Peter Muhlenberg Middle School's workout room.
Marianne Lamb, a physical education teacher at the middle school, said staff received a grant to help fund the facility -- but only partially.
"We have some equipment, and it's definitely being used," she said Friday, as kids ran around her on the open field. "But the other middle schools have TVs and sound systems ... just more advanced stuff. We'd like our kids to have that, too."
Students were able to go around the community asking for donations, and Lamb said so far the event raised about $1,200, an amount that's "not bad," she added. Last year was the first for the fitness event, and it was held on a Saturday.
Lamb said more publicity was done last year, and she had hoped that holding it during the week might draw more people out.
From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., students and faculty were able to walk around the track, play corn hole, try a few relay races, and even compete against each other in a few rounds of tug-of-war.
"The kids get really into the competition," Lamb said. "They don't even realize all the running around they're doing."
She added how important it was to get staff members to participate.
"We have to lead by example, so if the kids see that their teachers make this a priority, maybe they will too," she said.
The event falls in line with what teachers like Lamb hope to communicate with students during their time in school. She said something like walking is a great example of a healthy activity that can be part of a daily routine - students just need to start sooner than later.
Thomas Gilmore, 12, and Stuart Kent, 13, are two seventh graders who participated in the after-school event. They both brought in $10 to donate.
"Today has been really fun ... it's something different," said Stuart.
Both boys said they enjoy participating in sports and understand the importance of exercise, and they want their peers to have the same passion for fitness.
"I knew some of my friends would be here, and I told more of my friends to stay ... I mean why not?" Thomas said. "It's a great combination of fitness and fundraising."
Stuart said he enjoyed seeing some of his teachers and administrators outside the classroom.
"It's cool to see them having fun and running around, being silly," he said. "It's another chance for us to get to know them."
The two participated in the student rounds of tug-of-war -- they were both on the winning team, and smiled as they talked about the accomplishment. Even though the Patriot Walk was the first one for both of them, they said they'd like for it to happen again.
Lamb has the same hope, and would like to see it expand to a community event in years to come.
"I can tell by the looks on the kids' faces today that this is a good thing," she said. "And I know our wellness programs will just keep growing and needing financial support. It's a good cause, and the kids know that."
If you would like to donate to the PMMS wellness program or workout facility, call the school at 540-459-2941.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org