By Hannah Fry
4:40 PM PST, November 20, 2013
Newport Elementary School's third annual jog-a-thon had students running to raise money for the school Wednesday morning against the picturesque backdrop of rolling waves crashing along the coastline.
Principal Rich Rodriguez high-fived a group of third-graders as they sprinted around the corner of the 1/8 mile track on the blacktop, cheeks flushed and legs tired from running dozens of laps.
This year's jog-a-thon is Rodriguez's first at Newport Elementary. He took over as principal just a few months ago.
"It brings the kids together to have fun and raise money for the school," the principal said as he watched the runners. "It's amazing what the parents can put together."
The Parent Teacher Assn. hosted the event in conjunction with the Newport Elementary School Foundation, which hopes to raise $225,000 this year for various school programs. In previous years, the money raised has gone to art programs, staff development and netbooks for student use, said Matt Wiley, president of the foundation.
The amount of money raised through the jog-a-thon had not been tallied as of press time.
However, raising money is just one aspect of the event, Wiley said.
"It's great exercise," he said. "They go back to class exhausted. The teachers get very quiet kids for the rest of the day."
Music blared from the speakers set up on the grass as the deejay shouted words of encouragement to the young runners. By the end of the run, students were dumping water on their heads and sprawling on the grass.
Chad Watsworth, 8, ended his leg of the run after completing 30 laps around the blacktop, a goal he had set for himself after talking with his friends.
"I wanted to beat my friends, but I didn't," he said. "It was still fun."
For one of Wiley's twin daughters, Elsa Wiley, 8, the event was a way for her to spend time with her friends outside of class.
"I love to run and it's all really fun with the music," she said.
Every student who participated in the jog-a-thon received a T-shirt and reusable water bottle, donated by Pelican Hill Resort, one of the main sponsors of the event, said Matt Wiley.
Students also competed for various other prizes, including gift cards, a class ice cream party and lunch out with their principal.
"The support from the community is awesome," Matt Wiley said. "The kids have a great time with it."