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By Meg Smerbeck, M.S. Ed.

Middle School Learning Specialist

The Harley School

The fabulous running team: Harley and Nativity students together.

The fabulous running team: Harley and Nativity students together.

When Meg Smerbeck joined Harley Middle School in September, she was already excited about the prospect of bringing together students from a school she already knew and loved, Nativity Preparatory Academy, and the school that would become her new home.


Meg’s longtime friends, Bill and Chrissy Carpenter, began Nativity Preparatory Academy twelve years ago. With a mission to “end poverty one education at a time” the school’s goal is to provide a quality middle school education enabling students to be admitted to—and successful at—one of our city’s four Catholic high schools.  


Chrissy and Meg were seeking ways for some of their students to work together to support a mutual cause. They discovered the ADK Helmet Heroes Race and decided it would be great for their students to learn about the work the Hickok Center does to help victims of brain injuries…and then run in a race to raise money for them. Middle School teacher, Anneke Nordmark, signed on to help organize this joint venture.  

Nativity students at Harley.

Nativity students at Harley.

Ten Harley Grade 5 and 6 students were welcomed at Nativity Preparatory Academy to hear a presentation about the Hickok Center and the work they do to help affected adults live independent and productive lives. For one of the “training sessions” Nativity students came to Harley for a practice run and to slurp some popsicles!  


Finally, on Saturday, May 12, a team of 21 students and adults ran the ADK Helmet Heroes race together. This was the largest team of all the participants registered!  Students ran, jogged, and sometimes sloshed happily through the rain and mud for this spirited event.


Seeing the students encouraging others throughout all 5 kilometers of the race, clapping loudly for those who won medals, and experiencing the satisfaction of supporting a worthy cause were all affirmations demonstrating that when students are part of school communities with purpose and vision, adults just need to put opportunities in place and the kids take care of the rest!