The Walkathon Tradition Returns to PACA After Four Years

Caption: Seniors Leo Pedrozo and Lucas Hong shares cold popsicle with their kindergarten buddies after successfully walking laps around the soccer field for forty minutes.  [photo by Paulo Will Santos]

by Arthur Silva (Warrior Post Reporter / São Paulo, Brazil)

After four years of several of PACA traditions being canceled due to the pandemic and its effects, the annual event known as the Walkathon was brought back to PACA on October 18 of this school year.

In past years, the Walkathon was a traditional activity that happened at PACA almost every year since it was first introduced in the early 2000s.  Its purpose was to raise money for a specific project on the property of the school.  Sometimes, the project involved maintenance to an area of the school campus.  Sometimes the project involved an improvement in a system that was already in place.  

The organization of this year’s event started by planning for what would be the purpose. For this year’s Walkathon, there were certain things that were more necessary to consider. 

In the past years, lots of things were done with the money earned from the Walkathon, such as building the roof of the back courts, remodeling the swimming pool, adding the air conditioners to the library and music room and making other such improvements and renovations, which were only made possible through Walkathon donations.

This year’s project is to improve the gym’s sound system.  As PACA events have grown in providing the opportunities for students to showcase their artistic talents in both music and drama, the need for better sound equipment has also grown.  

Most of the large-scale events that take place at PACA, happen in the gym building.  Therefore, this year’s Walkathon project serves the purpose of being able to provide completely new technological devices to the sound system of the gym. This will help students to show their talents to the community in a way that can be appreciated without a lower quality of sound that the current sound system produces. 

In order for all this system to be installed, a sound engineer from DB Tecnologia Acústica was hired to map out a custom made sound system, with new professional equipment that will provide the best experience to the students to show their talents that God has given them.

According to the Director of Development, Kevin Bruce Flurry, the biggest challenge is in working with the specific type of building we know as the PACA gym.

“The gym is something complex, because it is not made to be an auditorium,” said Flurry.  “It is not made to be a place for music, shows and events.

“But we have some great events and we have some great students who have some amazing talents that God has given them,” said Flurry. “We need a sound system that will help our guests to understand what is going on.”

Though it is a very big and important event, there are some difficulties to organize the Walkathons. Part of the planning involves creating the structure of the event and providing the organization and the involvement of students in the cause. 

When asked about the main difficulties to organize a Walkathon, Flurry said the key was making familiarizing people with the event.

“How many people in Brazil know what a Walkathon is?” said Flurry. “The problem is communicating that, to make sure people understand it and to make sure that students are excited about it.”

For Flurry, his focus was helping parents to know how they could give back to the school through the Walkathon event, because it is not a typical event for the Brazilian community.

“Some of the difficulties are cultural,” said Flurry.  “A walkathon is very common in the US, not necessarily in Brazil, so we gotta do lots of explanations about that.”

Although the Walkathon tradition was in place for many years at PACA, it is not as familiar to all who currently attend the school. PACA guidance counselor, Mindy Swisher, happened to notice that the impact of the Walkathon is different for students from secondary to elementary grades.

Swisher said that students from lower grades seem to be much more excited about Walkathon.  Overall, the resulting improvements to the school will be appreciated by the younger students for longer than the older students. 

According to Swisher, the Seniors might not be so excited about it because they are not going to enjoy the new improvements made by the Walkathon if those improvements don’t take place before the end of the current school year.

The Walkathon was organized in different sections that separated students and teachers in different groups and times on the day. The Seniors class was separated from the rest of the high school students to run at the end of the day with the Pre-K 1 and 2 classes as well as the Kindergarten students. The eighth graders joined high school students in grades nine through 11 and ran during the first period ( 8:15 – 9:15), the 5th grade students joined the middle school grades of 6th and 7th grade to run from 10:00 to 10:40, and the first through fourth grade students ran immediately after lunch from 13:00 to 13:40. 

Finally, the Seniors ran during the last period (2:10 pm – 3:10 pm) together with the youngest at PACA. This experience will mark the rest of the kinder buddies’ lives at PACA, because they were able to run and walk their laps with their Senior buddy.

As this is the first time that Walkathon is being done after so many year, it is hard to see how effective it has been in raising the money needed for the new sound system to be installed.

Though there was some lack of communication in the process of raising funds, some students were really on track about what was happening and looked for a variety of sponsors in order to earn many donations. 

For eighth grader Anita Silva, it was a question of reaching out to distant relatives.  

“I just called my grandparents and asked if I could count on their help to sponsor me in the Walkathon,” said Silva. “I went to my uncle, my aunt, my grandfather and my father, explained what was about it and asked if they could help me.”

The Walkathon happened during class time on October 18, and most of the students were purposeful in walking or running as many laps as possible in order to help the school as much as they were able to.

The new sound system is going to be purchased in the next months, after October, because the “deadline” for sponsors who committed themselves to pay is by the end of the month. The goal is to get the new sound system in place for the school events of next year.