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Dodge Middle School 5K run/walk event raised $900 for 360 Communities

Dodge Middle School sixth graders hit the pavement running during the school's first 5K for the Community event June 6. Students were asked to get pledges for the event, and collected $900 which will be donated to 360 Communities

In a way, running a 5K is like getting through sixth grade: it takes perseverance.

Dodge Middle School principals and teachers know that, too. It's not easy running a 5K, and it's certainly not easy to make the transition from elementary school to middle school. Yet somehow, the DMS sixth graders managed to do both last week.

And, to top it off, they raised $900 for 360 Communities.

The school year came to an end on Thursday, but it was Wednesday morning when the entire sixth grade class gathered outside the school for the first-ever 5K for the Community. After a rousing pep talk from phy ed teacher Gregg Rappe, the kids lined up at the starting line. With the go from principal Chris Bussmann, the kids were off and running, or walking, as the case may be.

The DMS sixth grade teachers came up with fun way to bring the school year to an end. They held a 5K run or walk for students. Kids were asked to go out and get pledges - the school staff tries to instill a sense of charitable giving in students at any opportunity - before the last week of school. The money raised through the pledges was earmarked for 360 Communities. All told, the sixth grade class brought in more than $900, Bussmann said.

But the event was more of a fun and inspirational challenge for the students. It was a time, Bussmann said, to talk about perseverance.

"There are some challenges that almost seem insurmountable," he said, "but we try to teach the kids that when we do this as a group, we can do anything."

At one point or another, all of the kids had been asked to run or walk one mile, and then two. The 5K trek up to the corner of Akin Road and 195th Street wasn't that much farther. A number of parent volunteers were at posts along the route to cheer the kids on, or to hand out some water for those who wanted a quick drink. Teachers ran along with the kids, or they biked along the path, also giving support and encouragement.

Some kids ran the whole route, some walked. The important thing, Bussmann said, was that they were doing it together, but doing it at their own pace. It was a case of overcoming obstacles, one step at a time.

That's the kind of message the DMS staff wanted to leave the students with for the summer. When they come back next fall, these kids will be in seventh grade, and a whole new group of sixth graders will take their place.

"We see this as an opportunity for them to kind of transition to that seventh grade student leader, because in a short amount of time, we will be asking them to set the tone for the building," Bussmann said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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