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DECATUR – Brisk winds made Dennis School's color run an adventure on Wednesday.

Teachers and parent volunteers had to walk right up to kids to toss the colored corn starch on them to avoid having it just blow away, and managed it admirably.

“We always had a walk-a-thon (to raise money) before,” said Charlotte Bramer, a fifth grade student who suggested the color run. “But people weren't coming anymore.”

Her cousin had a color run at her job at a group home in Springfield, and Charlotte thought the idea was worth borrowing for her own school. Principal Matt Andrews and the staff agreed, and more than 80 students signed up to participate. The kids wore white T-shirts and nametags and brought donations, then walked laps around the north playground area. After every five laps, they got a new color tossed onto their clothes.

The event raised $1,000 that will be spent on new playground equipment, to be chosen by the student council who sponsored the event.

“We want to get jump ropes and hula hoops and maybe some more equipment like that,” Charlotte said, gesturing toward a climbing wall and a spinning hoop that are new this year.

Parents were warned that children who have asthma or are allergic to the ingredients in the colored powder should not participate, said fourth-grade teacher Sue Phillips. The staff investigated options like safety masks for those kids, but masks could have made the problem even worse if powder had gotten inside of them, or if kids were overconfident of how much protection they offered.

After only a couple of rounds of color-throwing, most of the kids were pretty messy.

“I can't wait to see them after all five colors,” Phillips said with a chuckle.

Similar paint races have been organized around the world as fundraisers. The group The Color Run started in 2011 by an event producer. The first run, in Phoenix, attracted about 6,000 people who wore white clothing and ran through colored powder. The races also resemble Holi, an Indian spring festival involving colorful paints. 

The Decatur event was held after school and parents agreed to provide transportation home, as the kids would miss the bus. A large number of parents were on hand to help and watch, which Phillips said is one of the things she loves about Dennis.

“The student senate kids have been working on this for a couple of months,” Phillips said. “They made posters at their meetings and we had the parents sign off that it was OK for them to stay, and there's a list on the back of what (the color) is made of.”

The school's student senate is an active one, teacher Jennifer Parks said. Earlier in the school year, to celebrate Arbor Day on April 27, student senate member Ana McIntosh's idea was for all 500 students to receive a white spruce tree to take home and plant.

“We always do candygrams (for Valentine's Day),” Parks said. “We sold smencils (scented pencils) for $1 each.”

All the money stays at Dennis to support activities and equipment, she said.


Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Herald & Review.

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