In the words of the rock band Journey, "Don't stop believing." And that is exactly the message that North Hall High School English teacher Tessa Shirley tries to extend to her students.
Shirley and her students have been working on a year-long service learning project that is poised for a sprint to the finish.
The group has organized "Miles 4 Smiles," a 5-kilometer race that will take place Saturday at North Hall High School.
Over the past year, the students have worked hard to raise funds to sponsor four charities of their choosing, according to Shirley. The students have bagged groceries at Kroger for tips, and even worked out a deal with Chick-fil-A whereby the youngsters sell biscuits to classmates in the mornings before class.
"We're trying to do all this on a zero budget. That way, we raise more for charity," Shirley said. "We're getting help from a lot of places."
"It's been a service learning project to encourage them. To show them you can make a difference. They believe they can make a difference and make things happen," Shirley said.
"Hopefully this will be a start to a lifelong pattern of the kids taking on things on their own. It'll keep the kids believing in themselves and their ability to make a difference."
North Hall Freshman Dylan Taylor summed up the sentiment of the students.
"I'm actually taking up a cause and doing something outside of the classroom," Taylor said.
"I'm trying to decide between helping out at the race and actually running in it. I'll probably end up running."
So far, about 75 people have pre-registered. According to Shirley, if they can get 200 entrants, the group should be able to meet their goal of $65,500 for the yearlong project.
You can pre-register for both the 5K run/walk and 1-mile fun run through Friday for $20. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday for $25.
The fun run will take place at 8:30 a.m. The 5K will begin at 9:30 a.m.