Wildcats take over Newburgh riverfront

May 22, 2017

By Shannon Hall

NEWBURGH — From 8:30 a.m. to mid morning on Monday, no one walked the halls at Newburgh Elementary.

Instead, hundreds of tiny feet pounded along Newburgh’s riverfront for the third annual Wildcat Mile.

“Every student gets to do this every year,” said Erin Purdue, a teacher at Newburgh Elementary and one of the organizers of the Wildcat Mile. “They have race bibs (and) they get their own number.”

As the name says, the race is a mile long, though kindergarteners run a slightly shorter course than the students in grades 1 through 5.

“We want this to be a real race-like experience for them,” said Purdue. “They can walk, they can run, either thing.”

Not only do the kids have the opportunity to race each other, but this year, they learned how to jazzercise.

Eleven-year-old Adam Meyer said he enjoyed the event.

“‘Cause,” he said with a quick drink of water, “it’s fun.”

The elementary school holds the annual event to promote healthy lifestyles as part of the school’s Heros initiative, which promotes good health and wellness.

Kathy Rowe, a former Castle High School teacher, sat at a bench and soaked in some sun while her grandson — Ethan — pumped his legs for the mile.

“I just think it’s awesome that Newburgh Elementary focused on education, physical activities and healthy foods,” Rowe said. “It’s commendable.”

Dozens of grandparents and parents volunteered to keep the kids motivated during the race.

“It’s amazing they do this event,” said Ann Cunningham, a parent of two Newburgh Elementary students. “It’s so fun.”

She has cheered the kids on for all three years.

“I like to run,” she said. Cunningham’s motor also runs, so they hope someday they can run 5K races with three generations.

Purdue said she doesn’t think the Wildcat Mile will stop any time soon.

“It’s a real positive environment,” Purdue said. “Everybody gets cheered on at the finish line. … and it’s a great way to spend the second-to-last day of school.”

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