Students in kindergarten through sixth grade have joined the Walking Club and walk laps around the school gym after they’ve finished eating their lunches. Staff and teachers walk and supervise the students as they walk. One community member, Joan Lewis, also volunteers her time and walks with the students two days a week. Joan is shown in the center of the photo with some of her walking friends. PHOTO: MARLENE DESCHLER/ SPRING GROVE HERALD<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->
Students in kindergarten through sixth grade have joined the Walking Club and walk laps around the school gym after they’ve finished eating their lunches. Staff and teachers walk and supervise the students as they walk. One community member, Joan Lewis, also volunteers her time and walks with the students two days a week. Joan is shown in the center of the photo with some of her walking friends. PHOTO: MARLENE DESCHLER/ SPRING GROVE HERALD

Even with very cold temperatures and snow and ice outside, students at Spring Grove Public School have been active. The adverse conditions have made it difficult for the students to spend much time outside, but they have been walking in the gym each day at lunchtime as part of the Walking Club.

The Walking Club began last fall. For 15 minutes of walking, the students will be able to log one mile. The collective miles are tracked to see how close they are getting to their tropical destination of the Galapagos Islands on the equator which is 3,000 miles from Spring Grove.

"We have walked 2,180 miles to date!" Deb Sullivan, Walking Club coordinator and elementary teacher, said with a smile. "We have only 885 miles to go, which are all miles in the ocean now so current Walking Club members received a life saver candy to keep them afloat while we keep walking. It will be great to reach our goal! "

The students are encouraged to walk 30 miles by the end of March. Physical activities at home - activities in which they are constantly moving for at least 15 minutes can also be counted toward miles. Parents keep track of this time on a special calendar that they sign and return to the classroom teacher.

Students that walk at least 30 miles will earn a T-shirt. Sullivan said that if a student hasn't signed up yet, not to worry, there is still plenty of time to be part of the Walking Club and earn a T-shirt. To become a part of the Walking Club, students need to fill out a form and have it signed by a parent and turn it back in to their classroom teacher. Forms can be picked up in the school office or from their classroom teacher. The deadline for new members to sign up is February 14th.

"I am thankful for all the assistance from the staff, kids, and parents," added Sullivan. "Everyone has been awesome to work with. The charts from home have been wonderful; it's great to see the kids active this time of year when it is sometimes too cold to be outside for activities."

Walking will continue through March with the celebration party in April. Students in first through third grades have the opportunity to walk five days a week. Students in kindergarten and fourth through sixth grades have different schedules that allow them to walk three days a week. The walking supervisors are Joan Lewis, Rachel Udstuen, Nancy Gulbranson, Megan Miller, and Scott Solberg.

"Participation in this program has been outstanding," commented Spring Grove School superintendent, Rachel Udstuen. "It is a great opportunity for our students to get some physical activity and visit with one another. We are especially grateful to Joan Lewis for volunteering her time so that kids are able to walk very day."

The students are also enjoying Walking Club.

"I like it because it is good exercise," said third grade student, Emma Moen.

"I like everything about Walking Club - and sometimes Running Club with Mrs. Sullivan. I like everyone here, they're all fun and I like to sing when I walk," commented third grade student Cole Gangl.

"I like walking because my heart beats and I get to waste more energy so I have less energy at bedtime so I can sleep better," added second grade student, Clara Myrah.

"It gives me more energy," said third grade student Maia Elton.

Joan Lewis volunteers her time as a walking supervisor. Her grandson, Xander, is a third grade student that gets to join his grandma when she walks.

"I am a walker and this time of year it is just too difficult to walk outside," Lewis explained. "Here I can walk where it is nice and warm. I can often get three miles in. I was a teacher here for 27 years, so it is nice to spend a little time with the kids again."

"If anyone would also like to volunteer their time supervising, or just spend some time walking and visiting with some really fun kids, let us know," added Udstuen.