By Janee Law
Bryan Dugan and John Schroeder, physical education teachers at Vanderbilt Elementary School, teamed up again this year to host the 21st Annual Turkey Trot Run, where students learned the importance of living healthy and active lives.
The week before Thanksgiving, students ran the 300-yard course, set up on the outdoor field at the school's 350 Deer Park Road location in Dix Hills.
Schroeder said that students prepared for the race by practicing in the month of October through the Healthy Steps Fitness Unit.
“After Thanksgiving, the weather goes south and the fields don’t dry out so this is really our culmination of our outside activities until the spring,” Schroeder said. “That’s why we do it right up until Thanksgiving.”
Although no records were broken this year, Schroeder said that there were 46 students in grades 1-5 who attained first-, second- and third-place results. All of the students who completed the run were awarded with a certificate of completion.
Schroeder and Dugan spearheaded the event 21 years ago as a way to promote lifetime fitness and to teach students the components of fitness and being physically active all year round at school.
“This is just another way of us teaching the kids about competition,” Schroeder said. “We talk about striving to do your best, and give forth your best effort. So we’re really teaching them lifetime fitness so that they’re not only active in elementary school but they also stay active and go walking or running at a track when they get older.”
Schroeder said that students had a great time participating in the run this year.
“When kids show up here, they’re mentally and physically prepared to run,” he added. “They always try to beat their time from the year before, and try to do better.”
With each year being a success, Schroeder doesn’t plan on stopping the annual event any time soon.
“We teach the kids about being a good sport and to cheer on their classmates no matter how they finished the run,” he said. “It teaches the kids the components of fitness and the components of being a good sport because not everyone can win so it helps build character.”