Race, Schools Collaborate

WHEELING – Students in several area schools have an opportunity to participate in the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic races set for Friday and Saturday at a discounted rate as part of the changing face of physical education in West Virginia’s schools.

“Students from certain schools will get a $10 discount on fees,” Ogden Half Marathon Race Director R. “Scat” Scatterday said. “The intention is to give every sixth grader and up an opportunity to exercise, train and eventually enter the races.”

Scatterday said he took a letter to principals of area schools proposing the discount on entry fees for interested students and he said he received a positive response.

Participating schools, according to Scatterday, include Wheeling Park High School, Wheeling Middle School, Wheeling Central Catholic High School, St. Michael Parish School, St. Vincent de Paul Parish School, Our Lady of Peace Parish School, Corpus Christi Parish School and The Linsly School.

“They were all in favor of partnering,” Scatterday said.

The weekend’s races will include the Ogden Tiny Tot Trot for children 5 years old and younger at 6:45 p.m. Friday, near the half marathon finish line at 14th and Main streets. Also on Friday, the non-competitive, mile-long Ogden Fun Run for ages 12 and younger gets under way from the top of Wheeling Hill at 7:15 p.m., followed by the Ogden Mile at 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, the action begins at 7:30 a.m. with the start of the Half Marathon Walk, followed by the Half Marathon Run and Run Relay at 8 a.m. and the 5K Run/Walk for Health at 8:15 a.m.

For their part, Scatterday said the schools could prepare students by increasing training or encouragement for the races in physical education classes. He said ideal things for students to learn would be the value of warming up, cooling down, practicing safe training and employing proper nutrition.

“The idea is to make it easier and less of a financial obstacle,” Scatterday said. He added the offer came from the Ogden Newspapers Race Committee and that it works with requirements set by the West Virginia Department of Education.

“The state has certain requirements that they need met,” Scatterday said. “Those guys (students) being in the race is part of it.”

WPHS Physical Education and Health Department Chair Mark Nardone said the discount helps the school to institute a new way of teaching physical health.

“Our goal in physical education and the health department is to promote wellness,” Nardone said. “The Ogden race is a chance for us to get our kids moving, training more every day to prepare for that sort of race.”

Nardone said West Virginia’s physical education system is moving away from concentrating on team sports and trying to focus more on teaching healthy lifestyles in general, offering such classes as yoga and pilates.

“West Virginia is still a very obese state,” Nardone said. “Maybe 20 percent of our kids are involved in team sports. What do we do with the other 80 percent?”

The West Virginia Department of Education has answered that question by releasing a series of Content Standard Objectives, Nardone said, to try to encourage healthy living among students in their daily lives.

“We train them (students) every day for wellness,” Nardone said.

As part of the change in physical fitness education, teachers also are taking special classes at the Health and Physical Education Leadership Academy in Charleston, according to Nardone. He said Wheeling Park High School teachers Stephanie Goodrich and Audrey Abraham are two such faculty trainees.

“A lot of these students may not have done this on their own,” Abraham said, praising the group of students who signed up and supported each other while preparing for the race. She said she hopes students take the confidence they gain from the experience and use it through their adult lives.

Wheeling Park High School sent 43 students to last year’s races, according to Nardone. He said that number has increased already to about 45-50 this year. He said the school also has several faculty members running in the races.

“Many of the faculty members run to promote health,” Goodrich said. “They encourage students to set goals and achieve them.”

“People need to understand,” Nardone said. “Physical education has changed to wellness education. People need to move more, eat less.”