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Teachers, administrators, parents and students gathered at Dahlgren School on Dec. 5 for the Jingle Jog race. The event took the place of the previously-scheduled Drumstick Dash, which was canceled due to inclement weather. The race was part of Dahlgren School’s celebration of the Month of the Military Family in November. Students ran one-sixth of a mile, to one full mile, depending on their age group. The atmosphere was festive, supportive and at the same time, highly-competitive.

“Welcome to the Jingle Jog,” Joseph Plato, physical education teacher at Dahlgren School, told students and parents. “We are still celebrating the Month of the Military Family. We wanted to let you guys know that we do understand how tough it is to be part of the military family. You guys do special things that a normal family doesn’t; I grew up as a military child as well so I understand, and our teachers understand. We just wanted to thank you and show our commitment to your children’s education.”

Plato thanked Margie Stevens, a contractor assigned to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division Corporate Communications Office and a Dahlgren School alum, and Friends of Dahlgren School, for providing prizes. “I wanted to give special thanks to Margie Stevens and Friends of Dahlgren School for ten turkeys, plus gift cards for second place,” he said.

After some adorable warm-up exercises, the race kicked off with a speedy heat of pre-kindergarten students. The contestants quickly completed the one-sixth mile, encouraged by parents, teachers and fellow students.

Young Angel won the boy’s portion of the pre-kindergarten category. His secret? “I ate vegetables,” he explained.

Pre-kindergarten student Sunnie finished first among the girls and cited similar race preparations. “I ate a bunch of fruit,” she said. “I did it all by myself.”

Sunnie’s mom, Patricia Brown, said she appreciated the inclusiveness cultivated by the event and others like it at Dahlgren School. “It encourages [the students] because all of them get to participate,” she said. “This is like a family here on base and everyone wants to be included.”

The Brown family had big plans for Sunnie’s prize turkey. “I don’t know if we can hold out until Christmas,” said Patricia. “I think we might have to do something a little bit before; we’re probably going to get started on it right away. Sunnie is proud to bring home that turkey. She had her turkey face on last night. She told me ‘Momma I’m going to win.’ She’s been preparing.”

Sunnie proudly clinched her fist and demonstrated her turkey face for the photographer. Her expression was one part fierce competitor and one part unadulterated cuteness.

The first place finisher in the middle school boys’ category was Kaleb, whose time was an impressive six minutes, 42 seconds. Running at other school activities helped him improve his performance. “From running the mile [at Dahlgren School], I’ve become a little bit quicker and I kept my pace up,” he said. “I just keep my eyes ahead.”

Kaleb offered some simple advice for others who want to improve their running. “Just keep at it,” he said.

Swanson added that it felt “good” to bring home a turkey for his family and he planned to enjoy his bird on Christmas Day.

Jingle Jog results:

Middle School: 1 mile race

First place boy- 6th grader Kaleb Swanson, 6 minutes, 42 seconds

First Place girl - 7th grader Rachel Archulet, 7 minutes, 40 seconds

2nd place boy - 6th grader Jacob Miller 7 minutes, 11 seconds

2nd place girl - tied between 7th grader Alyssa Burandt and 8th grader Jade Rattanaxay, 8 minutes, 20 seconds

4th/5th grade: 3/4 mile race

First place boy- 5th grader Justin Crouch

First Place girl - 4th grader Gabrielle Walters

2nd place boy - 4th grader Andrew Swensen

2nd place girl - 4th grader Maylen Rattanaxay

2nd/3rd grade: 1/2 mile race

First place boy- 2nd grader Gabriel Phillips

First Place girl - 2rd grader Salma Amrani Joutei

2nd place boy - 3rd grader James Copeland

2nd place girl - 3rd grader Grace Rowlands

Kindergarten/1st grade: 1/4 mile race

First place boy- Kindergartener Kyler Swensen

First Place girl - 1st grader Rachel Harnage

2nd place boy - 1st grader Julian Cosby

2nd place girl - 1st grader Serenity Flores

Pre-Kindergarten: 1/6 mile race

First place boy - Angel Fausto

First Place girl - Sunnie Brown

2nd place boy - Chase Burandt

2nd place girl - Annabelle Teem