North Hamilton County Elementary School's new walking track is now open, just in time to give area residents a place to exercise after all their hearty holiday meals.
North Hamilton was one of three elementary schools in the county selected by Hamilton County Schools to compete in Children's Hospital at Erlanger's "Let's Get on Track" competition, in which students at the participating schools were encouraged to increase their activity levels and log the most steps among their competitors.
Wallace A. Smith Elementary won the competition, but North Hamilton students weren't ready to give up, said principal Jacquie Hauth.
It was a teachable moment.
As North Hamilton school staff members shared the disappointing news about the competition with the students, they encouraged students' desire to persevere in their efforts, speaking to them about the importance of never giving up on their dreams.
The following day, fourth-grader Logan Smith came into the school office to donate $3 of his own money toward the $25,000 needed to build a track. The next day, he brought in another $5.
This prompted the school to create a "Wall of Hope" — now filled with photos of students, parents, grandparents and community members who contributed to the cause. Donations ranged from $1-$1,000.
North Hamilton County Elementary is at 601 Industrial Blvd. in Sale Creek. The track is open to the public from 6 p.m to 6 a.m. on days when school is in session, and any time on days when school is not in session.
"There's really nowhere in Sale Creek for people to go and walk safely," Hauth said, adding that seniors would sometimes use the school's small parking lot for walking. "It's good for everyone in the community, and I think that's what really took the kids' hearts."
Through their fundraising efforts and a $10,000 donation from Hamilton County School Coordinated Health, the students' perseverance paid off. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the quarter-mile paved walking track just before school let out for Christmas break.
"I just think it's been a really good message for the kids to learn," said Hauth. "They raised this money and made it happen, and hopefully one day they'll bring their kids there."
Email Emily Crisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.