Lynnfield,  October 26 2018

Huckleberry Hill students embrace 100 Mile Club

 By Christopher Roberson

Kathleen DeRosa, a second-grade teacher at Huckleberry Hill Elementary School, scans the tracking cards for 100 Mile Club® participants Luke Mancinelli (left) and Michael Glynn. (Courtesy Photo)

Last year, after listening to California teacher Kara Lubin speak about the success of the 100 Mile Club® that she created in 1992, health and wellness teacher Mary Robertson was eager to share the program with her colleagues at Huckleberry Hill Elementary School.

“She said she noticed that she had several children that struggled daily to fit in for a variety of different reasons; they hardly ever felt success,” Robertson said of Lubin. “She realized that several students didn’t feel ‘good enough’ in some aspect of their school day, and she was concerned about losing them.”

Therefore, Robertson began working with physical education teacher Beth Gasinowski and second-grade teacher Kathleen DeRosa to adopt the 100 Mile Club as a collaborative learning experience.

“It took off like wildfire; all students are working toward a common goal rather than competing with each other,” said Robertson, adding that approximately 130 students participated in the program last year and this year. “We have students who may struggle in their classwork who really shine here.”

She also said that because the club meets before school, METCO students can participate as well.

In addition, Robertson said “just over” 40 students exceeded the 100-mile mark last year. There were also a couple of students who went a bit farther. “We had two boys who took it upon themselves to reach 200 miles – and they did,” she said.

However, she said reaching the 100-mile mark is not the only measure of success. “Too often we look at final outcomes, such as test scores or grades, as the defining mark of successful students,” said Robertson. “We get such tunnel vision toward that outcome that we miss out on many of the other amazing gifts and attributes our students have.”

In terms of incentives, Robertson said students receive a 100 Mile Club t-shirt when they reach 25 miles; at 50 miles, they receive a 100 Mile Club pencil; at 75 miles, they receive a 100 Mile Club wristband; and students who reach 100 miles receive a gold medal.

“The great aspect of this program is that it is tiered so students can feel both challenged and accomplished at a variety of levels,” she said. “It’s amazing to see the perseverance and grit elementary students reveal when given the time and space.”

Regarding tracking, Robertson said each student is given a card with a specific barcode that is scanned each time a student completes a lap. The data is then uploaded to the school’s website.

Robertson said the students in the club motivate themselves to keep going throughout the school year. “This program teaches that each individual must be self-motivated and self-responsible,” she said.

Robertson also called attention to the quote on the back of each student’s commitment card, which comes from the “timeless wisdom” of the late college basketball coach John Wooden. It reads: “Make each day your masterpiece. Be true to yourself. Don’t whine. Don’t complain. Don’t make excuses!”

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