Several Hillsboro elementary schools plan to start student track programs this spring.

COURTESY PHOTO - Free Orchards Elementary School students accept a check for $2,500 last week, after the district received a grant to start elementary school track and field programs.A half-dozen elementary schools in the Hillsboro School District will launch track and field programs this spring, after receiving thousands of dollars in grants from Nike and Providence Health Systems.

The district announced this week that a $15,000 grant from Nike, and in-kind support from Providence will allow the district to start track programs at Brookwood, Eastwood, Free Orchards, Lincoln Street, Reedville, and W.L. Henry elementary schools this spring.

The track programs will be open to students in fourth through sixth grades, and offer a series of different events, including the 100-meter, 400-meter and 1,200-meter dashes, as well as turbo javelin and long jump.

The schools will compete at a full-scale meet at Hare Field at the end of May.

Rian Petrick, the district's executive director of extracurricular activities and community outreach, said ceremonial checks of $2,500 were presented to each of the school's last week.

"As we strive to know students by name, strength, and need, part of our work is to provide a variety of programming to keep students engaged throughout their time with us," he said on Tuesday. "While there are several opportunities at our high schools, we know our pipeline needs strengthening at the elementary and middle school levels."

Each school will hire a coach and purchase equipment and uniforms for participating students, Petrick said.

Providence representatives will visit the teams during practices to discuss health, wellness, and nutrition, Petrick said, and will conduct assessments on the athletes during the season to show students their growth.

Practices will begin after the district's Spring Break. Petrick said he hopes to involve high school students in the program to work with the student athletes and run drills. Petrick hopes the high school students are able to form bonds with the athletes and "better connect with the participants," he said.

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