By Ron Leir
Kearny High School is marshaling all its resources for a blockbuster event to coincide with the start of the fall term.
It’s billed as the “first annual Kearny 5K Charity Run/ Walk,” open to students and the public, slated for Saturday, Sept. 7, three days after classes resume for the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.
Proceeds from the run will go “to benefit the extra-curricular programs at Kearny High School,” according to a fact sheet provided Mayor Alberto Santos and the Town Council last week.
Those extra-curricular programs, in which an estimated one of every five KHS’s approximately 1,700 students participate, “receive no money from the Board of Education,” nor – for the most part – do faculty and/or parental advisors who serve as volunteers, said KHS Vice Principal John Millar, who oversees athletics/ activities.
Students and parents organize periodic canning and other types of fundraising on nights and weekends to support the extra-curriculars, Millar said. With the run, he added, KHS is “putting a program in place so that students and parents spend less time on fundraising and, instead, spend more time on the programs.”
One big reason extracurricular groups need money is for travel, Millar said. Examples: the Fishing Club did a weekend trip to Brielle to catch blues and striped bass; Alpha Omega, a Christian club, visited an evolution museum in Kentucky; Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) recently attended a national convention in California; and the Culinary Club went to the City Farm Café at Manhattan’s Union Square Park to pick up items needed to plan and execute a banquet.
The KHS fact sheet says the event will run from 8 to 11 a.m. with organizers setting up for the race at 7 a.m. and spending an hour in postrace mode doing cleanup.
Racers will start at the back side of the KHS stadium football end zone at the south end of the field, then exit the stadium to Forest St., go one block and turn right onto Quincy Ave., go one block and turn right onto Davis Ave. to enter West Hudson Park where they’ll complete one loop around the park, then turn right onto Davis and turning left onto King St. and continuing to the stadium entrance until they reach the finish line 165 meters down the track near the south field house.
KHS is asking the town to place barricades along the race route and to close residential streets “within the event area” to vehicular access, between 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., and run organizers “will be responsible for notifying all residents affected by street closings and [parking restrictions] … [and] will deliver fliers to residents’ doorsteps detailing [the] course map and street closures no later than Sept. 1,” the fact sheet says.
Organizers are asking the town for a police presence along the route for safety’s sake.
The KHS Band will be positioned inside the stadium and will play “as runners start and finish.” Organizers will take pains to ensure that the music volume will not “adversely impact” on residents and businesses. Restroom facilities, along with food and water, will be available inside the stadium.
As an added attraction, organizers will set up tents to display student work and/or to distribute information about student programs. Aside from the 5K race – which KHS says will be USA Track & Field certified – there are also plans for a “fun” race for children.
“I’m very excited,” KHS Principal Al Gilson said. “This will really build our culture and support our kids and it’s a great way to kick off the school year. We’ll also be showing our kids an example of a healthy life style. Our purpose is actually two-fold: we do fundraising and we show the community what [our kids] do.”
And, Gilson said, “it will be a good way to get kids who don’t sign up for extra-curricular programs to get on board, build a sense of community in our school.”
“We’re shooting for 500 to 750 participants,” Gilson said, “but I’d love to get 1,000 or more.” But organizers still have to pin down a budget for the event, including such things as overtime for municipal police and/or county sheriff’s officers; T-shirts and trophies; certification and timing of the race; race forms, bibs, pins and packet prep, ribbons, raffles and race announcer; food and beverages; race posters and lawn signs.
Organizers will try to line up corporate sponsors to help subsidize the event, Millar and Gilson said.
Insurance coverage for the event is provided through the Board of Education’s policy, Millar said, so that’s one less item to factor into the projected budget.
KHS art teachers are designing the race Tshirts, he said.
Gilson and Millar are the co-directors of the race but they’ve got plenty of help from these volunteers: Matt Weber is registration coordinator, Jim Cifelli is course marshal, Jennifer Correnti is volunteer coordinator, Wendy Kerr is food coordinator, Police Sgt. John Manley is logistics coordinators, Sally Sprague is secretary, Charlotte Harris is treasurer, Chris Mc- Shane is design director and Alan Correnti is media coordinator. Millar is also awards coordinator.