GREENVILLE — When the school bell rings at Baldwin Heights Elementary School, most students file through the front door, either to a bus or waiting parent.
But for a group of fourth- and fifth-graders, there are two days per week they aren’t in a rush to get home.
Instead, they lace up their running shoes and go for a jog, training for the Yellow Jacket Challenge 5K, which is scheduled for April 27.
For the better part of the last half decade, the four elementary schools in the Greenville Public Schools system have offered an after-school running club for students.
Nick Springsteen, who along with Matt Hoenshell heads the club at Baldwin Heights, said it’s a chance for the students to get outside and exercise.
“I love getting kids outside doing things,” Springsteen said. “It’s an hour they’re not sitting in front of a TV or a screen. It’s good exercise for them.”
Some kids are competitive, but some just do it for fun. It’s a chance for them to socialize while they spend an hour or so after school running or even just walking.
“It’s a social club for them too,” Springsteen said.
At Baldwin Heights, the club regularly has about two dozen students who show up for a 3-mile trek, usually around the school, but sometimes on the city’s trails.
“I was really surprised how many stick it out,” Springsteen said. “We’ve had a core of about 20 or 25 kids here just about every time.”
The kids really enjoy it.
“I love running and I also want to be with my friends because I knew they were doing it,” said Shea Wagner, 11.
Even at a young age, club members say they used the exercise as a way to stay in shape for the many sports they take part in.
“I like the exercise. I wanted to join because I play football and I thought it would be good exercise,” said Xander Jewell, 10.
Others simply just enjoy running.
“I started running with my uncle and I’ve always wanted to join the club,” said Brayden Spitler, 11.
And there always those who strive to get better.
“It was actually really fun for me,” said Noah Kellogg, 11. “The teachers really push you to reach your goals and I accomplished my goals and it made me feel better about my running life.”
The group has met each Tuesday and Thursday after school since October and continue to train through the end of this month.
The final challenge: Running in the Yellowjacket Challenge 5K. Around 15 of the group’s members are signed up to run in the race , which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 27, in Greenville.