Trailside Elementary School’s Mileage Club gets kids active at recess

Janell Kurchinski helps Ellie Gramann, left, and Saylor Dahland retrieve their name cards before they are able to run around the track for Mileage Club.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record | The Park Record

As soon as the doors open for recess at Trailside Elementary School, almost all of the kindergarten students sprint to a table by the field, grab cards with their names on them and run laps. Mileage Club, as the activity is called, has become a beloved tradition at the school.

Jess Lerner, a parent of students at the school, created the club at the beginning of the school year. Every Tuesday and Thursday, students from all grade levels are invited to run, walk or even somersault around a ¼ mile track. Each time they complete a lap, parent volunteers scan their cards so they know how far they have gone. When students accumulate a mile, they are given a charm in the shape of a foot.

Throughout the year, the participants ran more than 4,500 miles and 16 students completed a marathon, Lerner said. The kindergarteners ran about 1,110 of those miles.

“They love this more than anything,” she said.

The idea for the club came from a similar one at the school that Lerner’s children attended in Boulder, Colorado. When she moved to Park City, she decided to start the club at Trailside. It is sponsored by the school’s parent-teacher organization and run by parent volunteers.

She said that she has been surprised by the enthusiasm that students have for the program. Of the 550 kids at the school, about 85 percent have participated, she said. Kindergarteners have the highest percentage of participation, with only a handful of students who choose not to run.

Piper Griffith, a second-grader at the school, runs with the club any chance she can. She also encourages her friends to run with her, but she said that so many of her classmates participate that it is not hard to convince them.

“It’s good for your body to get outside and run,” she said.

She has 15 feet on her charm and hopes to eventually have 30.

One of Lerner’s favorite things about the club is that it brings students from different grades together in one activity.

“These kids are all blended together, they are not staying within their classes,” she said.

Plus, the students don’t need any special equipment or skills to participate, Lerner said. All they need are shoes and a way to move around.

“It’s not a language thing, it’s not a learning ability thing, it’s not even an athletic thing,” she said. “It is available to everyone.”

Teachers enjoy the activity because students release some of their energy and can focus better when they get back into the classroom.

“Mileage Club is an excellent structured activity for all students,” said Carolyn Synan, principal of the school. “Recess can be hard for students. This a great way for them to get moving, work out the wiggles and then get back to class, ready to learn.”

Mark Etheridge, a kindergarten teacher, said when it is Mileage Club day, his students behave because they want to be sure they are allowed recess time. He has noticed a difference in their behavior and positive attitudes since the club started this year.

“This really helps all of them,” he said. “It’s something to look forward to.”


Park City School District Board of Education hears solutions in wake of state audit

“Focus on the data outcomes, on the academic achievement outcomes, on the rankings that we have. The school board is happy with the direction of the district,” said Andrew Caplan, school board president. “We can always do a better job, especially with things that aren’t our core expertise like building and land management.”

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