Oct. 28, 2016
Several times a week, a group of dedicated elementary students
from Floro Torrence School 83
can be seen running along the jogging path that dips and winds around the
school’s playground, past the basketball courts, the slide and swings. Other
days they’re running indoors.
At the front of the pack is Coach and Physical Education
teacher Brian Duffey, who, along with a few of the more experienced youth
runners (or simply those with the best endurance), maintains the pace for the
As members of the school’s Run Club, these students aren’t
clocking in 8-minute miles simply for the fun of it (others range between 13-
to 15-minute miles).
For the past few years, the boys and girls have trained for and
participated in the annual Indianapolis
Monumental Marathon. The race, which is in its ninth year, includes a 5K,
half and full marathons, and a Kids Fun Run.
Along with several teachers and other staff, these
youngsters will be among the sea of 19,000 runners registered for this sold-out
race on Nov. 5. All of Floro Torrence’s youth runners (there are 72 students
signed up) will take on the 5K, with some staff, including Duffey,
running the full marathon.
Floro Torrence, however, isn’t the only IPS school participating.
According to Casey Collins, community outreach manager for Beyond Monumental, the non-profit
organization responsible for putting on the annual race, more than 30 IPS
schools will run (or walk).
The schools are part of the Monumental’s youth program, the Monumental
Kids Movement. It’s an initiative designed to “educate Indianapolis youth
about the benefits of exercise, proper diet and healthy living,” said Collins. The
potential to develop lifelong runners is a byproduct.
In addition to the health benefits Beyond Monumental has
given to many IPS students, teachers and staff, the organization has also
donated more than $825,000 to Indianapolis public education charities, “with
the Indianapolis Public Schools Education Foundation being our main
beneficiary,” said Collins.
Coach Duffey and Principal Heather Haskett have been
watching students and staff grow through the initiative every year.
“It’s actually turned us into being more active and health
conscious,” said Principal Haskett. “We are making better food choices during
celebrations; it’s not just movies and big fattening food. We’re also including
more activity in our day.”
Many of the teachers and students track the number of steps
they take, including Haskett, who wears her Fitbit to work daily.
The benefits have also trickled into gains in students’
academics and discipline.
“The kids who are active are paying more attention; they’re
more dedicated to school. Their attendance has improved, and we’re actually
getting recognized for improved attendance and fewer absences,” said Haskett.
“I think it’s all connected with the healthy choices, the activity, the
exercise, and the pushing of activity — which creates better attendance, which
means better academics, better grades and academic performance.”
Despite what some might think, the students choose to run,
choose to stay after school and choose to participate in the Indianapolis
“They like to stay after school to run; they like being
active,” said Haskett. “The students who choose to stay want to be here and
that’s important to us. They know what it’s about — it’s about distance, endurance,
For Duffey, it’s also about teachings that go well beyond
health and fitness.
“It takes a lot of discipline to run, because running is a
lonely sport,” said Duffey, an avid runner who has also completed the Boston
Marathon. “What I’m trying to show kids is what it takes to do the part that
nobody sees, the work that you put into things.”
While taking a brisk walk along Floro Torrence’s jogging
path, Duffey recalled a poem he read called “10,000 Hours.” It says that 10,000
hours is how long it takes to perfect a craft.
“Nobody ever sees the 10,000 hours you put into anything.
But what everybody does see is the last 30 seconds,” said Duffey. “They see the
result that you had, and that’s what I’m trying to tell the kids. I’m trying to
tell them that success is theirs but nobody is going to step out and do it for
them. They have to put in the work.”
As the start of the race draws near, many of the students in
Floro Torrence’s Run Club are still trying to improve their time and preparing
themselves mentally for the Monumental — which meanders through many of the
city’s cultural districts and along most iconic sights.
Sixth-grader Adrien J. isn’t worried about the run, that’s
easy for him. He’s mentally preparing himself for the weather.
“It’s always so cold the day of the marathon,” said Adrien,
who is pleased with his progress throughout his years with the Run Club.
Although he concedes that he was slow at first, Adrien said since he’s been
training with Coach Duffey his miles have gotten faster.
Adrien is always leading the club’s group runs. Fifth-grader
Raven S. is often right up there with him.
Raven joined the Run Club because she wanted to improve her
body’s overall health. What she received in return was something deeper.
makes me feel powerful,” said Raven. “You’re nervous in the beginning because
it’s a whole bunch of people you don’t know. Sometimes you feel like you kind
of get lost, and it feels kind of scary. But when you’re done, you feel
powerful and healthy.”