Program at Hayden elementary is taking students, community to new heights |

Program at Hayden elementary is taking students, community to new heights

Hayden fifth-grader Keith Fritts makes his way around the track while taking part in the Morning Mile Club, a new program offered by Hayden Elementary School.
John F. Russell

HAYDEN — It’s 20 minutes before the bell rings for class Wednesday morning and the dirt track surrounding the football field at the high school is filled with elementary school students enthusiastically completing laps. Some are dressed in running shoes, others wearing blue jeans, a few still carrying their backpacks and one student happily completing a lap in his cowboy boots.

Welcome to Hayden’s Morning Mile Club.

“They love it,” said Nicole Hampton, active health teacher for Hayden Elementary School. “They love to run, and I think that it’s a wonderful way to start the day and just wake up, and be prepared to go into the classroom and learn. I think they come home and they’re all excited about how many laps they did. For each lap they get a band and when they get four laps they get a charm. It’s good motivation.”

Hampton applied for and received a grant, which provided the bracelets, charms, assorted athletic equipment and a sound system to bring more energy to the track on most mornings — if that’s possible.

Hayden Elementary School Principal Steve McDonald said he was on board as soon as Hampton approached him with the idea.

“Nicole came to me with the idea and I loved it,” Hampton said. “I thought it was a great way for our kids to stay active, and I knew that it would help develop our culture at the elementary school.”

He also thinks the club brings a positive vibe to the school, and the community that is supporting the program.

McDonald also feels like the program is improving behavior among the students. It’s been a year that has so far been filled with distractions as students have been forced to share the space on the high school and middle school campus. A new school is being built just down the road where students used to attend elementary school. When finished, the new campus will have facilities for elementary, middle and high school students.

On many mornings parents join their children as they make their way around the track. Teachers and staff can also often be found walking alongside the smiling students. Next week, the school is inviting members of the Colorado State Patrol, Routt County Sheriff’s Office and Hayden fire and police departments to take part.

Alicia Doolin, a parent and Hayden High School graduate, said the program has made a huge difference for her son, Billy, who is an energetic kindergartner.

“One morning we just couldn’t make it early enough to run,” Doolin said. “… and the teacher said to me that he must not have been able to run and she could tell. He couldn’t sit still and he couldn’t just focus on that day. So since she told me that, I’ve made it every single morning.”

So, like many other children, her kindergartner has made a habit of showing up for class 20 minutes early on most days, and completing a few laps around the track.

He’s not alone as Hampton said she has about 154 of the elementary school’s 226 total students taking part in the program. Earning the charms, which are colored depending on the number of laps completed, has become a popular pastime for students, she said.

“This program has been a success because we have some amazing kids in this community that really just buy into it,” she said. “They get a little charm for every mile they run, and they put it on a necklace and they get to wear it and show it off.”

The students are hoping to reach 2,000 laps before the snow starts to fly or they are unable to run on the track. As of Sept. 17, the children taking part in the Morning Mile have completed 650 laps or 162.5 miles.

McDonald said there are still logistics to figure out, but he is hoping the school can find a way to continue the program into the winter. If not, the new high school will have a new track that will help the program continue next year.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.