There was a moment, between the pit and the hose, when it seemed every part of Rhianna Mendoza was covered in mud.
Well, nearly every part. A bright smile flashed as she ran to be dosed by a fire hose. “To me,” the 10-year-old said, “mud is like heaven.”
Obviously so, since the Wayne Trail Elementary fourth-grader had gone back for seconds. And she wasn’t the only one.
The Maumee school on Friday held its first “Panther Prowl Mud Run,” a walk-a-thon inspired by the popular dirt-and-water infused races. The school traditionally holds a walk-a-thon fund-raiser every year, but wanted to boost interest, principal Lonny Rivera said.
If interest can be measured by mud stains, it worked.
The school built a course around Wayne Trail grounds with several obstacles, including tire flips and a climbing wall. Students from Maumee High School next door helped with the course, and parents either cheered on or ran with teachers and students.
A pile of dirt that dropped off into a mud pit — along with screaming classmates egging on the runners — served as a climax.
Even staff got in on the fun. Mr. Rivera avoided mud for most of the day, though the brown hand prints all over his shirt — “from hugs,” he said — showed that he failed. He joined the last race, and apparently decided to go for a mud bath.
Before the final race, some students wiggled and danced. Others stretched and prepped for the start. It was both a chance to get dirty and to show off athleticism.
Wil Skaff, 10, who beat his classmates in the final race, runs with his mom, and it showed.
“I’m just pretty fast, I guess,” he said. “It was fun.”
After the mud, runners dashed, slid, and stumbled to the finish line, only to be greeted by members of the Maumee Fire Department, who sprayed cold water on everyone.
Children danced, screamed, and giggled as they washed off. Many went back to the pit, as Rhianna did, to start the process again.
Adam Shelton, a fourth-grade teacher, said the mud run wasn’t great just because the kids loved it. He pointed to the parents who hovered around the kids, the firefighters who sprayed water with glee, and even the city, which dug the mud pit.
“It’s just great for the whole community,” he said.
The money raised from the mud run funds equipment needed for the rigid demands of today’s data-driven education world.
Mr. Rivera said that Wayne Trail Elementary planned to buy as many small computers for students as possible, in part because of new computer-based standardized tests that Ohio and many other states will adopt by 2015.
The standardized tests — created through a consortium of states called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — are meant to align with the Common Core State Standards, a nearly nationwide effort to overhaul education. The new assessments mean schools will have to have add a significant number of computers.
So it’s in a way fitting that Wayne Trail chose to raise funds in a decidedly childlike way.
You say schools must modernize education standards? We’ll go jump in mud.
And go have fun. Rhianna said she’s been waiting weeks for the chance to get dirty with impunity. With school winding down for the year, Friday was a day to discard rules for a moment.
“No one can tell you to get clean,” Rhianna said of the run.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at:
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