On Thursday, May 11, nearly 100 Moore Elementary fourth-grade students will continue a 25-year tradition and rite of passage by participating in a 28-mile walk through the historic Natchez Trace area in Williamson County. This two-day event will be led by veteran physical education teachers and chaperoned by parents, faculty and staff, as the culminating activity of an 8-week training program.
The residents in neighborhoods adjacent to Moore Elementary are familiar with the spring training regimen. Beginning in March, the fourth-grade contingent march in brightly colored vests through the neighborhoods, gleefully waving at passersby and residents almost every day after school.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Moore’s “Walk to Wellness” and the school is celebrating with a community-wide dinner, to be held Wednesday, May 10, at 6:00 p.m. at its campus, located at 1061 Lewisburg Pike. “We are hoping many our former walkers and their families will come help us celebrate our 25th anniversary at this dinner,” Clark said (RSVP requested to [email protected]).
The walk continues to be a mainstay at the school because it provides opportunities to build fitness and stamina, to forge bonds among students, and to marvel at the local natural areas and resources. “We have been privileged to see how this walk instills lifelong memories for the students who participate,” said teacher John Parks. “They learn about healthy lifestyles, friendship, tolerance and the will to survive – all at 3.5 miles an hour. This walk allows students to set a goal and accomplish that goal while challenging themselves each and every step along the way.”
The walk begins on Thursday, May 11, with a trek that leads the students to the Natchez Trace Parkway. They will walk miles before lunch on the first day! At the end of the day, the 9- and 10-year-old road warriors will have covered 18 miles, approximately two-thirds of their journey. The group will return to the school to sleep and prepare for another 10 miles – and “heartbreak hill” – on Friday, May 12. A grand celebration is held every year in front of the school when the class returns from their journey and the entire school community welcomes them home, complete with fist bumps, high fives, and a lot of clapping and cheering.
The walk is a passion shared by the school’s entire physical education staff, including Parks, Kathy Clark, and the youngest member of the group, Tiffany Carlton. When Carlton joined the two teaching veterans, she jumped right in, understanding the benefits of such an undertaking. “The walk is an amazing opportunity for our fourth-grade students. Not only does it allow kids to get outside in nature but it also teaches them how to have relationships, combat boredom and, most importantly, how to overcome seemingly impossible tasks one step at a time.”
After 25 years, Clark said she and her fellow physical education teachers continue to offer this walk “because it is enables students to learn so much about themselves as they stretch themselves physically, socially and emotionally. When I see former walkers around town, the first question is always, ‘Do you still do the fourth grade walk?’ The greatest blessing and opportunity of my career is helping to provide this annual parallel to academic testing as a culminating event of five years of physical education in our school.”
The experience includes a personal journal, nutrition and fitness lessons, a scavenger hunt, and living history lessons along the Natchez Trace. The students keep personal journals during the training where they record information about the weather and their surroundings, as well as any body changes they observe as they go through the training. Principal Lisa Burgin said, “the walk has become a cherished tradition for our students and enables them to create a wonderful memory as they get ready to begin a new chapter at Freedom Intermediate School as fifth-graders.”
Media: Attached is the two-day itinerary for your planning purposes only if you would like to cover the walk at any point in its two-day course. For the safety of our students, we respectfully request that you please DO NOT publish this timed schedule.
If you would like to meet the group for photos or interviews during the walk, please call the school first (615-790-4700) so they can advise the teachers ahead of time and let you know where the best place to meet will be.