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Students put their shoes on to meet goal
It's cold, gray and damp outside, and while most want to stay cozy inside underneath warm blankets, the students of Herbert Mills Elementary School don't let the dreary clouds dampen their spirits.
On Jan. 15, inside of the school's small, purple and gold gymnasium, nearly 400 students, teachers, parents and other community members gathered to celebrate the achievements of the 367 students that attend Herbert Mills Elementary School.
They were inspired by the adventures of one of their own. Cindy Morehart, a teacher at the elementary, this year accomplished one of her life-long goals to hike the 2,664-mile Pacific Coast Trail (PCT). The trail spans from Mexico to Canada.
Morehart, affectionately known as the "Monarch Lady" by her students, documented her journey for them and it set into motion a series of events that made an impression on the Reynoldsburg students.
As each student entered the gym, he or she was presented a medal, commending an accomplishment. Collectively, the students walked more than 9,500 miles since May 2008, Morehart said.
As the assembly prepared to get under way, hundreds of children stirred with anticipation. Principal Craig Seckel held up his hands, waving them and slowly, one by one, the children did the same and the roar simmered down to a hum and then to silence.
Morehart welcomed the students and proceeded to lay out the agenda for the afternoon's festivities. Included in the agenda were the celebrity walkers, each of whom participated in achieving the celebrated goal. Among them were Mayor Brad McCloud, Police Chief David Suciu, Superintendent Steve Dackin, Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Supervisor Jason Gandee and of course, Tiger, the school mascot.
A 9,500-mile journey is no small feat by any measure, and that achievement was made in just under two years, in snow and in sun, and by people mostly younger than the age of 10.
The student body was divided into three teams, Team Washington, Team Oregon and Team California - each named after one of three states the trail passes through. Each team walked the distance of the PCT. Doing so sometimes meant coming to school early, like during the Wacky Walking Weeks. Wacky Walking Weeks were weeks that the children could walk before school and invite family members to join in.
Other walking festivities included visits from the celebrity walkers, team walking days where students learned about teamwork and Walking Wednesdays.
"Our most special days were probably our Walking Wednesdays," said Morehart as she addressed the students and invited another faculty member to lead the children in a cheer about those special days.
"Walking Wednesdays, walking, walking Wednesdays," sang the children enthusiastically.
"My favorite part of being in the walking club has been walking with the celebrity walkers and seeing how far we had gone," said Anna Hurt, a fourth grader.
"I enjoyed spending time with my friends," Storm Boyer added.
The journey isn't over either. Now the students plan to head back down the trail, Morehart said.
As the assembly came to an end, another motivational tune was selected. In the style of Queen's "We are the champions," "We are the walkers" rang throughout. After the assembly, the students headed out with another goal set, wearing their walking shoes.
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