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PRICHARD — Colors flew as community members crossed the finish line at Prichard Elementary School’s 5K Walk to Bike Color Run/Walk in honor of an esteemed teacher transitioning into retirement.

Brenda Hatten has taught at Prichard Elementary for the last 24 of her 26 teaching years, and she said she has enjoyed her community and her students every day. Seeing so many people at the 5K, Hatten said she was happy to have their support and love.

“It’s more people than I imagined,” she said. “It’s good to see kids that I taught and had in class 10 years ago and some from this year. It’s got me humbled that so many people showed up, and it’s great for the school, of course.”

Prichard Elementary Principal Kelly Bonar said Hatten has been an asset to the school and it will be weird to not have her present every day at the start of the 2021-22 school year. Hatten does plan to volunteer and substitute when needed, Bonar said, so she will still be close with the students and staff.

Hatten, who has taught special education classes, reading, mathematics and mainly social studies over the years, said the goal with teaching has always been to make sure students know learning is fun.

Hatten said she enjoys having students participate in interactive projects, such as making small businesses or portraying a wax museum. With the wax museum, Bonar said students had to dress up as historical figures and had makeshift buttons on their hands so when other students and staff pressed the button, they would learn all about the historical figure.

Bonar said Hatten’s style of teaching and commitment to her students has made her a delight over the years.

“She took social studies into this age where third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students learn and grow and it was just absolutely incredible to see what kind of teacher she is,” Bonar said.

The 5K included an entrance fee of $5 per person, which Bonar said will go toward getting bikes for the school’s bike club. The bike club actually includes the majority of the school, she said, and the wish to get every student a bike.

Bonar said the students love riding their bikes and do so frequently during recess and physical education classes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school had to stop letting students ride the bikes because they had to share, which was discouraged.

Bike riding picked back up in April, Bonar said, with disinfectant still being used between uses, but the ultimate goal is to ensure everyone can have their own bike.

Hatten said bike riding is a big part of the community, and the school has even used it to take the students on field trips to places that are nearby.

“There have been some kids that we were the ones who taught them to ride a bike,” Hatten said. “We have little kids up to fifth grade, some with and some without training wheels, but it’s something we all enjoy.”

Hatten also said encouraging bike riding at a young age will hopefully encourage students to stay active as they grow up.

Bonar said the attendance for the first fundraising 5K was great and they plan to make the event yearly to continue raising money for the bike club.

This year’s winners were student Vay Willis on her bike finishing at 25:55 and upcoming seventh grader Alejandro McCormick on foot finishing at 27:48.

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