A walk through cougar country

If you drove through the intersection of Plant and Adler Streets late last week, you may have seen the cross between a carnival and a track meet.

Friday featured the annual Curington Elementary Walk-a-thon, one of many full-forced fundraisers of Boerne ISD schools. These events are critical to school success as the Robin Hood school finance system continues to divert BISD tax dollars away from the district.

The Walk-a-thon is the best of all the school fundraisers, however, because my kids are a part of it.

Imagine tents and music and a mass of various-sized, white-shirted humanoids circling a track like a hurricane on a radar screen.

The cloud cover on this day made for ideal walking conditions. A sprinkle every hour or two kept walkers refreshed and focused on something other than the next food stop.

Kids coveted their “food cards” as more than their “lap cards,” though both hung equally around their wrists. Candy, pizza, popcorn, nachos, Cokes. All for the taking assuming you had enough punches left on your card.

Mrs. Obama sponsored a celery stand that only got business from kids who thought they were getting green Popsicles.

At least calories and rubber were both being burned on the track.

I quizzed kids on their lap counts. Five, fourteen, twenty-nine, forty-one. One kid had booked sixty-two laps with two hours to go. I later recalled his mother is a former collegiate track & field coach.

I worked the water table filling bathroom cups with Boerne Lake’s finest.

“Is the water free?” I heard many times from a generation that has never not known bottled water. I appreciated the kids’ understanding of value.

I also appreciated the variable nature of the fundraising mechanism. Students could get flat donations or per-lap sponsorships.

My oldest accepted only flat donations as he went door to door. They were a simpler sell. I’m hoping he’ll persuade next year’s sponsors on the per-lap option in order to best align his effort and his results.

The highlight of the day for a music lover who came of age two short decades ago? Classic rock and 80’s hits blaring across the school yard.

Thankfully, the dad running sound only gave limited authority to his sixth grade assistants. His handwritten sign on the music tent: “No rap; no Bieber.”

The level of parent volunteerism required to pull off these events is nearly incalculable. But nothing communicates to kids the worth of their educational pursuits like parents’ engaging at their school.

On this day, there was no one way to engage. If parents couldn’t give a half-day to the nacho stand, they could come and walk a few laps with Junior. One sweaty father told me he was getting a health insurance discount for the event.

I can think of few ways to improve the well-oiled Walk-a-thon that is eleven years in the making. Melatonin pills, perhaps, to keep my kids from awaking with anticipation at 4 am. A fruit stand, maybe.

My best idea would be a Wiffle ball homerun derby on the track’s infield baseball diamond. Instead of a free hot dog after twenty laps, we could give away cracks at the bat. The spectacle would entertain at least the baseball fans circling the track.

It is October, after all. Go Rangers. And go Curington Cougars.

Kevin Thompson is a columnist for The Boerne Star. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

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