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Stewart Manor Students Run Second Annual Prediction Marathon

To Stewart Manor Elementary School students, running a marathon is more than a good physical workout: It’s an exercise in integrated learning and community service.

More than 160 students learned those lessons when they prepared for the second annual Prediction Marathon — a race in which students predict how long it will take them to run from the school to the Stewart Manor Country Club, a two-thirds-of mile distance.

“This event goes beyond the physical aspect of fitness,” said Principal Hope Kranidis. “There are lessons here that span every aspect of the curriculum. Students use math skills such as estimating, averaging and conducting trial runs; they develop science skills by studying the heart and the cardiovascular system; they learn about health and the importance of a strong body, strong mind and good nutrition; and they develop their language arts skills as they connect their experience to those of the New York City Marathon runners.”

According to Peter Kaczenski, physical education teacher and originator of the event, the focus is on lifelong fitness and well-being.

“The students have been training for weeks, running, pacing themselves and predicting the time it will take for them to finish the race based on the pace they think they can maintain,” Kaczenski said.

Fourth-graders dressed in red, fifth-graders in white and sixth-graders in blue each took their turn at the starting line, anticipating Kaczenski’s signal to start each race. As parents, staff and the K-3 students cheered for the runners, police and EMT support was provided by the Village of Stewart Manor and the Village of Garden City to ensure a safe event. Superintendent of Schools Al Harper, in sneakers and a sweat suit, ran alongside the students. At the finish line, class moms were on hand to give water to the runners as their teachers clocked and noted their running times.

Fourth-grader Emily Muneeb reached the finish line with a time of 10:11. She didn’t beat her prediction of 8:35, but said the race was “for a good cause. I got a lot of exercise.”

Sixth-grader Anthony Pallisco, who beat his 6:45 prediction by 15 seconds, said, “It’s a good workout. It’s about having fun with your friends and learning to predict how fast you can get from one place to another…It builds confidence.”

The Prediction Marathon was purposely held in late October to coincide with the New York City Marathon so that children can make a real life connection, according to Principal Kranidis. “We’ve had parents who have participated in the [New York] marathon. It raises awareness and a bonus to this event is that we raise money for Ronald McDonald House…so we’re ‘running for life.’”

Last year, students sought sponsorships from family and friends and raised more than $1,300 for the cause. This year, they hope to exceed that amount. Once the sponsorships are tallied, the school will arrange to visit the Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park to make a formal donation.

The mission of the Elmont Union Free School District is to “reach and teach for excellence,” which means continually improving instruction and increasing student achievement. Dedication to this goal is what has earned Elmont New York state recognition for its “High-Performing/Gap-Closing Schools,” and as a state “model for school success.” In partnership with the community, the district holds its students to the highest standards while maintaining one of the lowest per-pupil expenditures in Nassau County.