Sacred Heart School students and faculty participate in the fourth annual “Race for Education” Monday, raising more than $13,000 in pledges for
Sacred Heart School students and faculty participate in the fourth annual “Race for Education” Monday, raising more than $13,000 in pledges for the school. (Derek Carson)

BENNINGTON -- Students of the Sacred Heart School raised more than $13,000 in pledges for their school in the fourth annual "Race for Education."

The race, which took place from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Monday, is not competitive, but gives students from Pre-K through eighth grade the opportunity to walk or run to support their school. "They can go at their own pace," said principal David Estes. "Some will walk, some will run."

Estes said the event was designed to promote wellness amongst students as well as raise money for the school.

Students first walked from Sacred Heart to Mount Anthony Union High School's track, where they lined up by grade. The plan was for the group to walk the first lap together, to provide photo opportunities, but the students were a little too excited, and took off running as soon as the group began to move.

More than 160 students participated, along with many parents and staff members. "We've got grandparents, we've got teachers, everybody's involved," said Estes. "It's a real community event."

Sacred Heart art students had designed one poster, on display at the water table. Another was designed and donated by parent Dan Turcotte, of Phoenix Wing House of Design, of Bennington. That sign was on display at the school, on the corner of School and Gage streets.

Parents handed out cups of water and refilled students' water bottles from a table near the starting point, but they demanded that students only take water every two laps, so that they wouldn't run out. When one younger student walked up to the table for the second time in about five minutes, a parent said, "You've got to do two laps between waters!"

"I did five!" said the student.

"Remember," said another parent, chidingly, "There's no potty!"

While most students were dressed in the school's warm weather uniform -- green shirts and tan pants or shorts for boys, skirts for girls -- some of the more brave wore suits and ties, despite the 80-degree weather. Many of the older girls traded their skirts for colorful running shorts.

This was the first year the race took place at the high school track. In previous years, students had paraded around Bennington.

About 30 minutes into the hour-long race, it began to see its first casualities. Children started flopping on the grass, and finding seats in the shade. Despite the heat, others continued to run. The vast majority, however, walked around the track at a leisurely pace.

The money raised by the event will go toward the cost of operating the school, according to Estes.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB