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Now that’s what I call a Jog-a-Thon! Annual fundraising run returns to Harbor View Elementary

By AMY SENK

Harbor View Elementary School held its Jog-a-Thon fundraiser last Tuesday, Feb. 8, marking the first time the entire school body and parents were on campus together for an event since before COVID.

“The sense of community and togetherness – we’ve missed it for so long,” said Parent Faculty Organization Co-president Ashley Carlton. “It’s the first time we’ve all been together on campus in two years. It’s special to watch this one.”

Jog-a-Thons raise money through sponsorships and by having the participants collect pledges – lump sums or a specific amount for each lap the students run during their 20-minute slots. Youth participate by grade level, running in two circular tracks in the grass by the Goldenrod Avenue’s school’s upper playground. This year’s goal was $70,000.

Now that's what firefighters

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Photos courtesy of Anne Kittleson

Newport Beach Firefighters come out to support Harbor View’s Jog-a-Thon

The school’s first Jog-a-Thon was held in 2009, when I was a PFO member with a sixth grader and a kindergartner at the school. Back then, volunteers raised about $60,000, kids had fun, and the event became a school standard, ultimately popping up on other elementary school campuses. By the second year, firefighters from the Corona del Mar station stopped by and gave high-fives, and a few weeks later, the school’s principal honored her promise to be doused with Gatorade to celebrate the kids’ efforts.

The Gatorade thing was a big deal. Not long after, a new principal was being recruited, and parents gathered with district officials and wrote on posters what characteristics they sought for this new hire. Being willing to be dunked after the Jog-a-Thon was at the top of the list.

I decided I was long overdue to pop in on a Jog-a-Thon, and I immediately saw some changes. The kids were wearing racing bibs, and their laps were being tracked electronically, like they were running a professional race. We used to use sharpies and make marks as they rushed past. Mother’s Market was there as a sponsor, along with several other businesses. There was a step-and-repeat style backdrop for photo ops and the sound system blaring pop music was top notch. It was impressive.

Now that s what joggers

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Harbor View’s joggers running laps

But some things were the same. The CdM firefighters were there, and the kids boasted about who would run the most laps. I looked back at my CdM Today archives of Jog-a-Thon coverage, and I found two students bragging about running more laps than anyone in the whole school. “One hundred,” one said. “Twenty million,” his friend countered.

This year, the same.

“I’m faster than him,” James Gabriel, 7, a first grader said, pointing to his classmate, Jakey Okun, also 7.

“No, no, no, no, no, no!” Jakey replied. Then they began discussing who had more sprays with a water bottle during their laps.

It was great to see everyone, from Board Trustee Karen Yelsey to Principal Gabriel Del Real to parent volunteers, including PFO Co-president Moriya Bodie. I caught up with old friends, chatted with the firefighters, saw some of the same teachers who taught my kids, and enjoyed the sunshine and exuberance. 

Now that s what Del Real

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Harbor View Principal Gabriel Del Real showing his school spirit

The Jog-a-Thon has always been fun. This year’s somehow seemed bigger and better in so many ways.

• • •

Other CdM observations – now that Chipotle has opened, many of us were surprised that the mural they’d painted on the building’s side had been painted over. Why the whitewash? Why no mural? I’ve written in the past about CdM residents’ love of the mural and this seemed odd.

I reached out to a company spokeswoman who didn’t explain why one version was painted over, but said they were in the process of “making adjustments to this location including the final artwork for the mural.

“You’ll see the complete aesthetic within the next 30 days,” she said. 

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Amy Senk has lived in Corona del Mar for 20+ years and was publisher of Corona del Mar Today, an online newspaper that ran daily for seven years. Senk, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, is involved in the Corona del Mar Residents Association. She and her husband have two children attending college at the University of Missouri and Duke University. She is a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.