Originally published Nov. 27, 2019 in the Greenfield Recorder.
By Zack DeLuca
Dressed in blue, orange, and black and gold, students from every school in the district raced around the Pioneer Valley Regional School athletic fields for the 10th annual Turkey Trot on Wednesday.
“It’s nice to have everybody here,” Superintendent Jonathan Scagel said. “To have the staff, students and family members all in one place — this has never happened before.”
This was the first year that each school from the Pioneer Valley Regional School District participated, and the first year the run was held at Pioneer. In the past, the Turkey Trot has been held at Bernardston Elementary School.
Dressed in a turkey costume, Sue Scott, who founded the annual event and is the physical education teacher at both Warwick and Bernardston elementary schools led the day’s activities. Students trained for the holiday event as part of their physical education classes.
“We’re teaching students to improve on their own personal best,” Scott said.
First- through sixth-grade students who improved during their physical education classes were given a bracelet with a charm after Wednesday’s race. The number of charms they received was dependent on how many times the student improved while training for the official run.
“I improved every time I trained,” Bernardston third-grader Ethan Burgh said proudly after the race.
Students were encouraged to wear a color assigned to the school they attend. Northfield Elementary School students wore blue and Bernardston Elementary School students, some of whom are from Leyden, wore yellow, while Warwick Community School students were dressed in orange. Pioneer students wore black and gold apparel. Additionally, each child had a race bib with his or her school and grade.
Each grade was called to the starting line in order from preschool through 12th grade. Band members kicked off the race by playing in the parking lot and cheering students on as they ran the 1-mile course.
After the race, students visited the “snack shack” for free water and snacks from the PVRS Sports Boosters. Staff, family members and friends warmed up with a cup of hot cider or coffee, sold by members of the essential skills class at Pioneer. While the event was free, students were encouraged to donate a canned good for the local food pantry as an “entry fee.”
Pioneer Principal Kevin Burke said the day proved to be a great expansion of the annual community event. Pioneer students who served as “panther leaders” stood by the younger students and helped conduct the post-run activities. They played soccer, volleyball, Kan Jam and more.
After playing games, students gathered for an assembly in the gymnasium that included a demonstration from national yo-yo champions from the A2Z Science & Learning Store in Northampton and a performance by cheerleaders from the Bernardston Recreation Department, the 2019 national cheerleading champions.
Scott and Northfield Elementary School physical education teacher Barbara Killeen shared students’ training stats with the district, and students who improved during their training were asked to stand up for recognition. After the assembly, teachers gave each participating student a certificate of completion.
Following an early lunch, students were invited to the auditorium for a screening of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” before being dismissed for Thanksgiving break.