Brinnon School District Superintendent Trish Beathard stands on the district’s new walking/running path that was installed over late spring and summer with funding received from a state grant. To her right is the upgraded play area that the district completed last summer with a separate grant award from the same state funding source. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

Brinnon School District Superintendent Trish Beathard stands on the district’s new walking/running path that was installed over late spring and summer with funding received from a state grant. To her right is the upgraded play area that the district completed last summer with a separate grant award from the same state funding source. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

Brinnon School District adds walking path

Competitive grant pays for quarter-mile project

BRINNON — For the second year in a row, Brinnon School District students returned to school with an upgrade to their playground, this time in the form of a walking and running path.

The district installed the path during spring and early summer with the $46,000 grant it received from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

The path is a quarter-mile long and about 6 feet wide, and it’s already being utilized by the students’ run club, district staff members and community members during non-school hours, Superintendent Trish Beathard said.

“It’s been kind of fun, because sometimes we’ll be having a meeting and instead of sitting and talking, like when I’m talking with someone or the teachers are meeting, we’ll use it to get up and move rather then sit,” Beathard said. “It’s been a fun way to use that path.

“Because the track is 6 feet across, it’s nice for distancing and is a nice, safer outdoor activity. It just gives the kids a chance for a little socialization.

“There can’t be a prettier playground on Earth than this.”

The district applied for the grant last fall and was notified of its acceptance during the winter, Beathard said.

The funds came from a Healthy Kids-Healthy Schools grant through OSPI, which was provided $3.25 million from the state capital budget for 2019-21 to support the Healthiest Next Generation Initiative.

The funds are available for schools for either physical education/activity or nutrition.

The grants are awarded on a competitive basis. No school can receive more than $200,000, OSPI’s website said.

Brinnon received a $73,000 grant last year that went toward new playground equipment.

Beathard was surprised the district was approved twice because she said the grants normally go toward larger school districts.

“I was thrilled and surprised, and I think it’s something that is going to benefit our whole community,” she said. “It’s especially exciting because we get to share it with everyone.”

The district has a walking/running club in which students participate during recess. It was founded by teacher Britney Edwards, a former electrical engineer who designed a bar-code scanner and program that allows students to easily track their distances.

Before the track was in place, the students ran between cones, but with the deliberate length of a quarter-mile, they can now track their distances, Beathard said.

While overseen by Edwards, Beathard said the club is led by the older students during the daily run/walks.

The track is nice for the community, because in Brinnon, outside of trail hiking, there’s not a place to walk on a flat area safely, Beathard said. The track provides that outside of school hours until dusk, she added.

“It’s really great for the community to bring in something like this for free,” she said.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.

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