Students celebrate the season with beloved Turkey Trot

Taylor Hough, Lola Brand, Abby DeFalco, Sienna Templeton and Kayleigh Mastroeni celebrate the Turkey Trot. (PHOTO courtesy of tara templeton). The Turkey Trot Champions (from left to right) Quinn Wydner, Keyleb Nelson, Sienna Templeton, Taylor Hough, Lola Brand and Abby DeFalco framed by students who dressed up as turkeys for the occasion. (Photo courtesy of Tara Templeton).

By Laurie Gordon
FREDON - Thanks to the dedication of phys-ed teacher Lisa Trusa and the staff at The Fredon Elementary School, the Thanksgiving-welcoming, school-spirited annnual Fredon Township Turkey Trot, was held again this year, this time across the street from the school at Lodestar Park. Each year the event is highly anticipated by students, teachers and parents. On Monday, this year's Trot didn't disappoint.
There is no whistle or starters gun to commence the races. Rather the command is a “gobble.”
“It's so satisfying to see the students setting goals and working toward them,” Trusa said. “For the parents, it's so great to watch them cheer the runners on. As for the other students, they shout encouragement and give high fives.”
The event involves the entire student body, which filed out of the school about 1:30 p.m. on Monday, and pumped up music welcomes them to the park.
“The turkey trot race is a school wide event where spectators positively encourage and support runners who are taken on a challenge of completing two laps around Lodestar Park,” said Trusa.
Benji Koch took first place for the boys, turning in a 5:47. Kaleb Nelson was second, runing 5:53, and Quin Wydner was third in 5:55. In the girls' race, first place went to Lola Brand who smoked the course in 5:51. Sienna Templeton was third in 6:09 and there was a break-the-tape tie for third between Taylor Hough and Abby DeFalco who both ran 6:10.
“The Turkey Trot is fun and I like running with all my friends,” said Templeton. “It was tiring, but worth it. Congratulations to all of the other runners, and thank you Mrs. Trusa for doing this. In the three years I've been running, this year was the best.”
Her mother, Tara Templeton, said, “I think what Mrs. Trusa has created here is a great example of health, fitness and fun. She's a teacher that cares about her students getting outside, breathing fresh air, exercise and putting down electronics and having quality time with their peers and teachers.”
Templeton underscored how much all of the parents enjoy coming to the event.
Said Brand, “I'm really proud of myself for how I ran. What I tried to do was keep my pace until the end and then I just sprinted. My friend Miranda won last year and she moved so this year I wanted to win it for her. One of my favorite parts of the race is running with my friends.”
Hough said her favorite part is being a role model for the younger kids and showing them what it's all about. Kids that run are in grades four through eight and the rest of the student body lines the course.
“I love how into it they get cheering for us as we run by,” she said. “It's such an exciting event and I look forward to it. I think that our gym teacher does a fantastic job organizing it and the Run for Fun. I really pushed myself with that and got 30 miles this year.”
The Turkey Trot is the culmination of another one of the tremendous programs instituted by Trusa. The school's Run for Fun takes place during the first few months of school. Students run during recess. For each mile a student runs, a box is colored on a wall chart at the school. When a student runs five miles, he or she receives a plastic foot token. They can do miles during phys ed class, during recess and at sanctioned races in the community. When a student reaches 25 miles, he or she receives a 25 mile charm and large plastic foot. For those runners reaching 50 miles during the course of the program, there is a 50 mile charm and another large plastic foot. At the completion of Run For Fun, all students who ran five or more miles receive a certificate of completion.
The Turkey Trot used to be held on the grounds of the Fredon School, but it moved to the park when the school was undergoing some facility changes. Now the double loop takes kids through the bucolic—and at parts hilly—Lodestar Park.
Every year, the race is run and the school spirit that is manifested because of it seems to grow exponentially. It's all thanks to a teacher whose philosophy is, and always has been, to instill the value of physical fitness in her students. Trusa teaches them that exercise, in the form of running or any sport, positively extrapolates to all aspects of their lives.