Cider Mill School students had a glorious, spring-like October day to spend part of it walking to raise money for their school Wednesday morning, Oct. 19. The 3rd-5th graders held the school’s annual Walkathon to benefit the PTA and raised $28,000 in donations.

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This is the 7th year the school has held the Walkathon, the proceeds of which help fund programs run by the PTA–visiting author, fun fitness nights, teacher grants, hospitality for teachers, and more. Cider Mill PTA president Nicola Davies says she’s grateful that everyone–staff and families–are so supportive and generous, so much so that the event funds the whole year of programming and grant giving.

“We are fortunate to live in such a wonderful community. I always worry that we won’t make our goal, times’ are certainly not getting any easier and there are many demands placed on us all, especially at the beginning of the school year,” Davies says.

The students start working on getting donation pledges in the first few weeks of school, and they get incredibly committed to the program, according to Gretchen Jeanes, the PTA parent who chairs the Walkathon.

“This fundraiser is such great experience for everyone. The kids are directly involved both getting donations as well as doing the walk outside which changes the dynamic–each student sees this as important,” she says, adding that the excitement just keeps building once the donations start coming in, and the kids track the amounts on posters outside classrooms and in the cafeteria.

For lots of reasons, it gets the school year off to a great start in terms of pulling the school community even tighter–not least of which because of a certain fashion statement. Students who bring in their donations before a set deadline receive a t-shirt to wear the day of the walk.

“The school looks awesome with everyone wearing the same t-shirt,” says Jeanes of the shirt that features the school’s new Bee mascot.

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The kids certainly enjoy being outside in the sunshine and fresh air as the entire school fills Veterans Memorial stadium, united as one. As they walk around the track together by House, with third- , fourth- and fifth graders mixing together and dancing to the music, it’s clear they’re learning lessons outside the classroom too.

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photos:  Gretchen Jeanes