Pownal Elementary students participate in Pownal’s inaugural Relay Recess.
Pownal Elementary students participate in Pownal's inaugural Relay Recess. (Derek Carson)

POWNAL -- Earlier this month, Pownal Elementary School teamed up with the American Cancer Society to put on its inaugural "Relay Recess," after a first grade student approached faculty with the idea that the school should do something to fight cancer.

Thomas Saunders approached physical education teacher Brent Kipp, who in turn reached out to the ACS to get more information about their program.

Relay Recess is a program designed to increase awareness of the Relay for Life in elementary schools. According to the program's website, "The Relay Recess Program provides students, teachers, and administrators the opportunity to becomes superheroes in their own communities by celebrating people who have battled cancer, remembering loved ones lost, and fighting back against a disease that has taken too many lives. The Relay Recess Program also engages elementary school students in the fight against cancer through fundraising activities that support cancer programs and services in every community. In addition, it gives students the chance to get out of the classroom and have fun with entertainment and activities that reinforce what they have learned."

Three hundred students gathered on the field, starting around 10 a.m. on the designated day. The sixth grade class led the group through various dance moves as they walked, and students were all given leis to wear after crossing the finish line. The set course was marked with feet donation cards that displayed the names of friends and family members who had been lost to cancer. Kindergarteners walked for a quarter mile, first and second graders for a half mile, and the third grade and up ran a full mile.

Pownal hopes to expand the event in future years, but this year managed to raise $250. When presenting the check to Relay for Life Event Chair Billie Jo Tifft, Principal Todd Phillips announced that he would match the school's donation.

For those who would like a chance to participate themselves, the Relay for Life of Bennington County will begin this Saturday, June 21, at 6 p.m., and run until 6 a.m. on Sunday.

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