Area runners no longer have to drive to Clearwater to get their Thanksgiving 5K fix. Entering its second year, the Coffee Pot Turkey Trot has expanded its field from 500 to a potential 2,000 participants. Plan to grab an extra turkey leg and piece of pumpkin pie, knowing you’ve earned it going for a personal best along the picturesque waterfront along Coffee Pot Bayou.
And it’s more than just a fundraiser for the North Shore Elementary School PTA. The Coffee Pot Turkey Trot is a celebration of family engagement with their neighborhood school. A few years ago, North Shore Elementary was labeled a D school, and many families clamored for coveted lottery spots in magnet programs or opted for expensive private schools.
Then a group of parents of preschoolers asked, “How about our zoned school? What’s wrong with North Shore?” And the answer was, nothing. But parents were operating under the misconception that neighborhood schools were less desirable. These same parents approached the school, to ask questions and see what they could do. What they found was a group of happy, dedicated teachers excited to work with families to provide the enhancements that help make a school special.
“I don’t want to make it seem like a bunch of parents came in a changed the school, because everyone there has always given their best, and it was a great school from the beginning” said Turkey Trot committee member Molly Auld. “But what we’ve been able to do is raise awareness, involvement and small amounts of money to add things like after-school enrichments.
“We now have Spanish, Drama, Dance, Soccer, Art Club, Mad Science and Yoga, activities that kids don’t get during the school day. Additionally, we help support field trips, literacy programs, and classroom supply needs.”
The difference has been a growing sense of community around the school. “We’d like to be an example that other families can emulate,” said PTA president Laura Hine. “A family shouldn’t have to win a lottery for their child to attend a great school. Visit your zone school, get involved; you might be surprised how enriching it can be for your family and your community.”
Amber Brinkley, founding chair of the Turkey Trot, saw the lack of a Thanksgiving 5K in St. Pete as an opportunity to do something different from the typical school fundraiser. “Even if you don’t have kids, or send your kids to another school, we all benefit from having a great neighborhood school. And it’s a chance for the school to do something the whole city can enjoy.”
While North Shore recently improved to a B grade, PTA leaders caution parents not to put too much stock in a school grade based on one day of testing, with Hine adding, “Parents at the school didn’t need a high grade from the state to know that North Shore is a wonderful school. But it is the metric at hand, and our teachers and administrators are super excited about it, so we are too.”
The second annual Coffee Pot Turkey Trot 5K is a family -friendly timed 5K. The selected route highlights some of the wonderful neighborhoods that make up part of the school zone including Northeast Park, Snell Isle, Old Northeast – and of course Coffee Pot Bayou. Registration is now open at www.runsignup.com/coffeepotturkeytrot.
Organizers will also host the Turkey Trot Kickoff Party at Elva Rouse Park on North Shore Drive between 10th And 13th Avenues on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 10 a.m.to 1 p.m. Activities include Kidding Around Yoga, a workout led by Quadrum Fitness Centers, live music from JJ Pattishall and the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital ambulance.