Students at Debert Elementary are running the town

Debert Notebook, Julie Johnstone

Published on June 26, 2014

The second annual ‘We Run This Town’ four kilometre fun run took place at Debert Elementary School on June 13.

Children from grades three to six practiced twice a week since April to prepare for this event.

About 20 students took part in last year’s fun run. Organizers this year were thrilled to more than double that number, with 44 children participating.

The children left the school promptly at one o’clock with a police escort. They travelled south on Masstown Road, turned on to Hudson Road and finally on to Plains Road, where they made their way back to the school.

Parents and community members cheered on the runners as they made their way along the route and students not participating in the run lined the sidewalks outside the school to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers as they returned.

The concept for the run club began as staff at the school looked for ways to encourage students to become more physically active. They were also looking for alternatives to team sports.

Teacher Sonya Barnhill was already a runner and decided that with the help of a few willing volunteers, she would start a run club at the school.

Barnhill’s commitment to the program doesn’t stop at the end of the school day. She’s an active member of the Debert community and encourages the children to stay active after school as well.

All students attending run club are given ballots for a daily draw. In addition to that Barnhill gives ballots to those she sees out and about in the community playing, walking, riding their bikes or being active in some way.

The winner of the draw receives a prize designed to further encourage physical fitness. Past prizes have included skipping ropes, hula-hoops and bubble blow.

“Run club helps the children feel a connection to the school and helps them to get healthier,” says Erma Cox, Debert Elementary’s principal. “The run club is open to all levels. Our goal is to help the children build stamina and to give them a sense of achievement. The message going out is we don’t believe in the word can’t.”

Judging from the excitement and enthusiasm of the students taking part, it’s clear that goal has been achieved.


Julie Johnstone is a married mother of two school-aged children, fiddle and step dance teacher and a community volunteer. If you have any community news to report, send it to her at