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Sun, Dec. 08

Fantastic voyage

Courier/Nathaniel Kastelic
Third-grader Will Wagner, left, and second-grader Antonio Sanchez both wear their 112 ³toe tokens² on necklaces representing the amount of miles they walked as they sprint through the Mileage Club finish line to conclude the Del Rio Elementary School¹s 7,991 mile roundtrip to Maine and back Tuesday afternoon in Chino Valley.

Courier/Nathaniel Kastelic Third-grader Will Wagner, left, and second-grader Antonio Sanchez both wear their 112 ³toe tokens² on necklaces representing the amount of miles they walked as they sprint through the Mileage Club finish line to conclude the Del Rio Elementary School¹s 7,991 mile roundtrip to Maine and back Tuesday afternoon in Chino Valley.

CHINO VALLEY ­ The entire student body at Del Rio Elementary School has walked nearly 8,000 miles in the past few months ­ enough to have walked from Chino Valley to Maine and back.

As part of the Mileage Club, Del Rio Principal Kent Evans said every student in the school has been walking during their recess periods three days a week since the end of October to accumulate miles.

When a student has completed a mile ­ four laps around the school's football field ­ he/she earns a "toe token" to wear around his/her neck. Since October, the students ran a combined total of 7,991 miles.

As the students earned miles, Evans said teachers marked those miles on a map to show their students how far they have traveled from their school in Chino Valley.

"We tallied up the miles and started walking from Chino to Maine," Evans said. "The kids got to plot their trek across the U.S. and back."

Every morning, as the students made their "trip," Evans said the school displayed photographs of a place from that area, as well as some historical information, in the morning announcements on television.

For example, when the students reached 1,122 miles and made it to Brewster, Kan., they displayed pictures of the Garden of the Gods and Mt. Sunflower, the highest point in Kansas (4,033 ft.)

When the students "traveled" 2,911 miles and made their way from West Lorne, Ontario, to Woodford Hollow, Vt., they learned about Niagara Falls, Lake Ontario and the Erie Canal.

They learned about Vicksburg, Miss., the Mississippi River and Monroe, La., when they traveled from Jackson, La., to Monroe, La., and about Las Cruses, Tucson, Phoenix and Chino Valley when they made their way from New Mexico back to Chino.

Will Wagner, a third-grade student from Del Rio, and his friend, second-grader Antonio Sanchez, tied for first place over the entire school by running 112 miles.

"It was a fun thing to do," Wagner said. "It gave me some good exercise."

This was the idea, Evans said, adding, "It encourages the kids to get out there and get a little more exercise."

First-grader Maddy Ferguson said the event "was fun because we got to watch everyone run around and stuff. The people who win are really lucky. It was hard work, but you can try and it's fun because you're helping your classmates."

Francisco Juarez, another first-grade student, added, "It was so fun because I was running with my friends."

The teachers and staff at Del Rio also participated in the Mileage Club, and first-grade teacher Kristin Campbell came in first over all the other staff members, running 422 miles ­ 60 of those miles she ran during the annual breast cancer walk.

She said she believes the Mileage Club, in its first year, was a good idea because "It really gave the students something to focus on."

Fifth-grader Nick Stewart said that, after learning about different places all over the U.S., he discovered that "there were a lot of places in those states that I didn't know about."

His classmate, Ariana Pina, added, "It looks like a really small world, but it's huge. This was fun and interesting and I learned a lot."

Jena Brown said that the maps they tracked their journey on contained mills around the U.S., and "I've only seen two or three mills. I didn't know they were all over the world. It was fun just to see all these places I haven't heard of before."

Stewart said that, aside from learning, the miles he and the other students ran will make them healthier.

"It's giving a good reason for some kids to get really active," he said.

Contact the reporter at rbump@prescottaz.com

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