Little feet pound the pavement for ESC

Running for a cause took on big meaning at several Del Mar Union School District schools last week. Jog-a-thons at schools like Sycamore Ridge, Ashley Falls and Ocean Air were held to raise money to save Extended Studies Curriculum programs.

Students ran lap after lap to save things like band, plants in their school garden, science fairs, physical education games, lunch clubs and plays.

"They're literally pounding the pavement in their running shoes to raise funds for a quality education," Ocean Air Principal Gary Wilson wrote in a release.

After the school board announced cuts to the ESC program last month and pink slips passed on to 19 teachers, individual school sites have until April 15 to raise money to save their programs for the 2009-2010 school year.

After 2010, ESC programs will receive district-wide funding through the Del Mar Education Foundation. As for now, it's every school for itself.

Ocean Air has raised $75,000 toward their goal of $148,000.

"We're really under tremendous pressure to raise money for the ESC curriculum," parent Julie Bronstein said.

Everyone was fired up for the fundraiser, event coordinator Karin Watkins said, noting that even teachers have made contributions.

Perhaps people were so fired up because it's such a valuable, worthwhile cause, Watkins said of ESC, which includes science, technology, art, music and PE. Bronstein said ESC was "critical" to students' educational growth and Watkins described it as tying everything together.

Born to run

Morning fog lingered early in the day March 20, providing cool weather so the runners would not get overheated. But these Ocean Air students are in pretty good shape.

"They get a lot of practice," Joy Napolitano said.

The morning jog was a fun way to raise money. Students laughed, leaped and raced very, very hard. Some held hands as they ran and a few mothers even joined their children for a workout.

A pit stop included orange slices and cups of water to keep the joggers going.

Area jog-a-thons

-About $25,00 raised for Ocean Air

-$40,000 needed for ESC programs

-About $28,000 raised for Ashley Falls

-$30,000 needed for ESC programs

-About $14,000 raised for Sycamore Ridge

-$25,000 still needed to fund ESC programs

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