Saturday’s bright sun and brisk morning temps made for perfect conditions for Old Saybrook’s fourth annual Jingle Bell Run.
A major fundraiser organized by Old Saybrook High School building rep and science teacher Amber Scherber and fellow science teacher Karen Carlone, the December 2 race brought in nearly 100 participants and garnered the strong support of teachers from every school in the district.
“This race is really a collaborative effort of so many educators,” says Carlone. “The Old Saybrook Education Association and the PTO work hand in hand to make it a success.”
Proceeds from the Jingle Bell Run’s three races—a “fun run” for the youngest cohort (ages 2-6), a mile run for those ages 7-14, and the 5K main event—provide scholarships for Old Saybrook’s graduating seniors. The event is followed by a PTO-sponsored “Sweets with Santa” that includes pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as a Santa’s Workshop with ornament making, face painting, cookie decorating, and holiday cards for soldiers.
“Every year, our goal is to make this more and more of a community event,” says Scherber, who started the race in 2014. “This year, we have more teacher involvement than ever, with every department in the district playing to their own particular strengths.”
Fine arts teacher Sarah Menga and technical education teacher Gerald Carlone created signs and holiday decorations for the Jingle Bell Run and Santa’s Workshop. High school cross country and track coach Peter Capezzone, also a special education teacher, oversaw the timing of the race and brought in student athletes to participate. On race day, science teachers Jaclyn Shearin and David Plotkin, Spanish teacher Amy Claffey, social studies teacher Meghan Payne, and others were stationed at various points throughout the course, directing runners. Other teachers solicited donations from the community, assembled door prizes and raffle baskets, and promoted and staffed the event.
Student members of the high school’s Interact Club, Ecology Club, and National Honor Society also volunteered with race day promotion, setup, and registration.
In addition to providing scholarships, money raised from the Jingle Bell Run helps support the local soup kitchen.
“It’s about giving back,” says Carlone. “As teachers, this is in our nature: Do good, feel good. It’s important that we come together as a group and have a presence in our community.”