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Girls run for the joy and life lessons of it at St. Pius V Catholic School

By LAUREN MAY, Guest Blogger

At St. Pius V Catholic School in Jacksonville we’re excited to have a new extracurricular offering: Girls on the Run, a nonprofit after-school activity for girls in grades three through eight. The mission: “We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”

Fourth-grader Ta'Niya Bartley and Princial "Coach" Lauren May run during a recent practice.

Fourth-grader Ta’Niya Bartley and Princial “Coach” Lauren May run during a recent practice.

St. Pius second-grade teacher Esther Franqui coached at a previous school and thought it would be a great addition to the activities available to students at St. Pius.

Coach Franqui and myself, Principal “Coach” Lauren May, created a team of 13 female students. The girls are engaged twice weekly in the Girls on the Run curriculum which helps girls learn valuable core lessons such as:

  • Recognizing our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making
  • Embracing our differences and find strength in our connectedness
  • Expressing joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions
  • Nurturing our physical, emotional and spiritual health
  • Leading with an open heart and assume positive intent
  • Standing up for ourselves and others.

It’s already having a positive impact on our students.

“I like Girls on the Run because it helps me make friends, be a kind person and get in shape,” said Mikela Jones, fourth-grader at St. Pius.

Fourth-grader Mikayla Jones, , Gwendolyn Hickson, and daughter Trimya Jackson, also a fourth-grader share a moment during practice.

Fourth-grader Mikayla Jones, , Gwendolyn Hickson, and daughter Trimya Jackson, also a fourth-grader share a moment during practice.

Step Up For Students has several coaches or running buddies in the Jacksonville area. The season ends today (Dec. 3) with a 5K at the University of North Florida, and each girl is assigned a running buddy who runs the 5K with her.

This is a great way for the community to have an impact a girl in a positive way. The girls feel empowered and they are excited about the support.

“I have never been more proud of myself!” said fifth-grader Alethea Butler, after 5K practice at St. Pius on Nov. 10.

Third grader Caleb Dubois-Brinson runs during practice.

Third-grader Caleb Dubois-Brinson runs during practice.

At the Girls on the Run coaches training I met with Conchita Moody, Step Up’s Human Resources manager.

We began talking about the history of St. Pius and the 120 Step Up scholars at the school.

“Coach” Conchita agreed to send Step Up hats to all girls on the team.

The community at large is being positively impacted by the work of St. Pius faculty and staff at Step Up partner schools and in the Step Up offices.

Thank you for your participation and for helping our girls learn to activate their limitless potential and learn to accomplish her dreams. Thank you also to Girls on the Run for their support of the program in several schools across the state!

Prior to becoming principal of St. Pius in the 2015-16 school year, Lauren May taught kindergarten at the Jacksonville school for four years.  She holds a bachelor’s and Master of Education, specializing in Early Childhood and Special Education from the University of Florida and is currently studying for a Master of Educational Leadership  at St. Leo University. Lauren is an avid Gator fan. While in college, she worked with the Gator football team recruiting department and gave tours to prospective students. She has served on the Gator Club of Jacksonville board of directors for four years, most recently as vice president.