Program gets young students up and running

ISHPEMING – Students at Birchview Elementary School have another option when it comes to sports this year.

Ishpeming Public School Interim Superintendent Dan Paul has started a cross country running team for Birchview Elementary School students to join and compete in. When Paul was hired as the interim superintendent he asked that he would still be able to spend time working with children, he said. Starting this cross country team is one of the ways he’s doing so.

“I’ve started an elementary cross country team at other schools before,” Paul said. “The idea is to get the to develop the skills and knowledge to run properly and to get them to love running.”

Along with teaching the student these important skills, they are also learning to make healthy choices and to set goals, Paul said.

“We teach them what not to eat and what to eat,” he said. “For example, they are taught not to eat a heavy meal before running.”

The cross country program has been created for children in first grade through fourth grade with the fifth- graders joining the middle school team. Paul said he wanted to start this elementary team because it’s something that students in Ishpeming would have never otherwise had the opportunity to do.

“The skills they learn here can also carry into other sports like basketball or football or track,” Paul said. “And I hope they do carry these skills into those other sports and for the rest of their lives.”

The students on the team get to run at their own pace and their own speed, he said, and they get a chance compete with themselves instead of against others. During practice Paul also gives the children a lot of encouragement by giving them high-fives and telling them to just keep a steady pace.

“We’ve been at this for two weeks and some are still struggling but they are so much better than they were at the beginning,” Paul said. “It’s just amazing.”

There are currently 20 students on the team and any wishing to join – including area home schooled children – just have to show up to practice. Julie Perry of Ishpeming has two children on the team and she said they both love it.

“Both kids like to run, so this is just a perfect outlet for that,” Perry said. “I also really think that it will help them with basketball and football.”

Perry said she found out about the team starting up via Facebook and asked her kids if they would like to try it.

“I think it’s helping them build up their endurance and making them stronger,” she said. “Plus Mr. Paul always finds a way to make it fun for the kids, which I think is just great.”

Practice is held Tuesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. in Al Quaal Recreation Area next to Birchview Elementary School and will continue throughout the season.

For more information contact Dan Paul at 485-5501.

Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is