Third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders competed in the friendly run
PASO ROBLES — Elementary students from Paso Robles schools met at Barney Swartz Park on Friday, Oct. 14, for their annual cross country finals event. Around 200 students from the third, fourth, and fifth grades competed in the friendly run.
Paso Robles Para Educator and Elementary Athletic Director Kellie Burbank started the after-school athletic program eight years ago. Six of the districts schools participate in not only the cross country event but also their upcoming volleyball and basketball seasons.
Students are split into a JV and varsity team — third-graders on JV, fifth-graders on varsity, and fourth-graders are split. The program is an introduction into sports for the young students and is a free program. They compete against other schools in the district and have their final championship game or meet at the end of the season.
“It is so needed … I can’t say enough good things about it because I have seen all the positiveness,” said Burbank.
Burbank notices the students performing better academically after joining the sports teams. Having to take a break from the program due to COVID restrictions, she has seen a greater need for the program to promote socialization and friendships with the students. Burbank says their number of participating students increased greatly after COVID.
One fourth-grade student’s parent told Burbank that prior to joining the sports teams, her son didn’t have friends at school and his grades were not doing well. But, after joining the team, he was able to make friends and his grades were doing much better.
Additionally, through the program, students develop school pride, and learn about winning and losing. Burbank notices the student’s dedication to the program and it helps them learn what type of sports or activities they may like to pursue further down the road.
At the cross country championship, athletes and coaches from the Paso Robles High School cross country team came out to help the students with their big run.
Georgia Brown Elementary School’s boys and girls JV team won first place, and Pat Butler Elementary School’s boys and girls varsity won first place for both of those teams.
Later this month, the young students will begin their volleyball season with a championship tournament to be held at Centennial Park.