LONG LAKE - History credits the Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu, for writing, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." But for the students and staff at Long Lake Central School, a thousand miles is not quite far enough.
On Jan. 7, the school challenged volunteer student and staff participants to wear a pedometer for five weeks. The program's goal was to achieve the recommended 10,000 steps per day that a healthy individual should maintain for general fitness.
The idea for the walk was suggested by Kindergarten teacher, Nichole Neyette, on behalf of the school's Health and Wellness Committee.
Physical Education teacher, Dave Olbert, implemented the program with the hope of teaching the students the value of a healthy lifestyle.
Olbert picked the small town of Point Terrace, Oregon, as the virtual destination for the walkers. The town is 2,983 miles from Long Lake and was chosen for its calculated "per step" distance from the school.
The school was divided into three groups: elementary, grades 7-12, and school staff. A $50 gift certificate to Dick's Sporting Goods (for new shoes) was awarded to the walker with the most steps from each group.
On Feb. 12, the school celebrated their achievement with a healthy dinner and awards ceremony for the participants.
"I had it calculated out that it would take just under 3,000 miles to the little town in Oregon," Olbert said. "Based on a 2.5 foot stride that was just a little over 6 million steps to get there. The final numbers are not tallied yet but it looks like we have over 10 million steps."
Each week the walkers would turn in their results so their progress could be charted. While the levels of participation varied among the students, the overall result was astounding.
"We might have made it there and back actually!" Olbert said.
Thanks to the success of this year's walk, the school would like to make it a yearly program including the possibility of contacting the "destination" town.
"We're hoping to make this an annual event and try to get the whole community involved," Olbert added.
Elementary student Austin Pierce walked the farthest in his category and Mike Farrell logged the most adult miles. Results for the 7-12 grade are still pending final tabulation.
While the goal was to promote exercise and healthy living, Olbert sees the benefit going much deeper.
"I think the enthusiasm of the elementary students is what inspires me the most," he concluded. "And I was happy to see the obligation to contribute by all of the students."