UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Twenty-one students from St. Helen School, a half dozen parents, three family dogs and one physical education teacher jogged through the streets of West Town and Ukrainian Village Friday morning to celebrate the new school year.
The effort — now in its second year — was also designed to promote fitness. The school year, kicked off last week at St. Helen, 2347 W. Augusta Blvd.
"These kids could be sleeping in, relaxing, eating doughnuts, but they choose to be proactive and want to run with me," said Tracy Roessner, the school's physical education teacher, who lives in West Town and bikes or jogs to work.
Roessner kicked off the 1.2 mile jog at the Erie Street and Ashland Avenue intersection, where she picked up two children at 7 a.m.
By the third of five stops, at 7:22 a.m., when DNAinfo joined in, there was a big crew gathered at Damen Avenue and Division Street, waiting for another young jogger and doing a shoelace check.
The group ran west on Division Street, stopped to catch their breath at Division and Oakley Street, and were at school with plenty of time to hang out before the 7:45 a.m. bell.
The school serves 355 students in grades preschool through eighth grade.
Thea Gilliot, a West Town resident, joined the group near the last stop because her pre-Kindergartner could not jog the full length to school.
"It makes St. Helen feel even more like a school with a sense of family and trust," Gillott said of the jog.
St. Helen parent Sarah Skertich ran with her three children, in grades preschool, second, and fourth, along with the family's dog Hutch, a black Labrador.
"It's inspiring that [Roessner] does this," said Skertich, who bikes to school with her children when the weather is nice.