Why celebrate our schools? For community, family, health

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Tamara Littlejohn, aka Cap’n Awesome, at the 2016 Celebrate Schools 5K with her son, Jude. Tamara, a teacher at Oak Heights Elementary, loves to celebrate our schools with her family, students and colleagues.

The Foundation for Edmonds School District had the chance to visit with Tamara Littlejohn, a teacher and parent here in the Edmonds School District about why she participates in the Foundation’s Celebrate Schools 5K Run/Walk each year with her family. You might just recognize her from her fun-filled costume and huge race-day smile when she has appeared as Cap’n Awesome. Thanks for chatting with us, Tamara!

You too can join in this fun-filled community event on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 8 a.m. at Alderwood Mall. Online registration is open until 11:59 p.m. Oct. 4. Paper registration forms are also available at school offices. In-person registration will be available at our Packet Pickup location—Lynnwood Fire Station on 44th Ave. from 4-7 pm on Oct. 5 and 6—as well as on race day starting at 7 a.m. All proceeds will go to support participating schools and Foundation-funded programs that support student learning here in the Edmonds School District. Head to the Foundation website for complete event details.

Q: Tamara, tell us about you and your family?

A: We are a family of four. My husband, Bradley and I have been together for 20 years and have the pleasure of raising our 13-year-old daughter, Guinevere, and 9-year-old son, Jude. Our daughter attended Hilltop elementary three years and my son attends 4th grade at Oak Heights, where I also teach 2nd grade.

Q: How long have you been participating in the Celebrate Schools 5Ks?

A: I think we have been participating in the 5k for five years. I first heard about it after I started my own pathway to a healthier lifestyle and had just completed my first 5k the previous month. I appreciated having an event in front of me to prompt training, but once I heard that THIS particular race could benefit the entire school I worked at JUST BY PARTICIPATING, I was totally sold. We went the first year without too much fanfare. From there on, though, I’ve promoted the race extensively in order to get as much support for my school as possible. It adds an extra something, knowing my students and my own kids will personally benefit from more than just the exercise; the contest and outcome are exciting.

Q: Tell us about your spirited costumes and what is behind them!

A: We have generally worn just the standard t-shirt, but this past year the Oak Heights staff had the theme of superheroes. My students have the option of calling me Mrs. Littlejohn, Mrs. L or by my alter ego: Cap’n Awesome. I thought it was kind of silly and fun, then one year a parent made me my official Cap’n Awesome cape and the real superhero was born! I always wear my cape when I run at school. What’s more fun than running alongside superhero?? Last year I just let the Cap’n run for me. That said, I think running races is way more interesting when you see costumes involved. Anything that adds spirit, joy and energy to the race is always appreciated and I love to bring it. My daughter and I have dressed up as characters from the movie Up, as love bugs and as leprechauns for other races.

Tamara’s husband, Bradley and their daughter, Guinevere help to make participation in the Celebrate Schools 5K a family affair.

Q: What do you enjoy about the event?

I LOVE that it’s a there and back because this race is like no other!! At most races, I run I don’t know people there. This one is different! I’ve been teaching in ESD for 13 years at Beverly, Hilltop and Oak Heights. This event is the only time of year I see and wave at many of my former colleagues, so the course suits me beautifully since we pass one another. I also just love getting my students active. Every year I tell my students they get a t-shirt (aka bragging rights) and that if they’ll jog at the 5k, I’ll run with them. Every year I get a gaggle of kiddos running around me and, while it’s a little crazy, it’s a bonding experience that is quite unique and special to share with my students. At each school I’ve worked at, I’ve tried to get our community involved in the race in a big way and have helped to make the event grow. I’m pretty proud of that contribution to my school, my students and the district. What an empowering event!

Thanks to Tamara for sharing her Celebrate Schools story and photos! We will be on the lookout for Cap’n Awesome and friends on Oct. 7.

— Sponsored by the Foundation for Edmonds School District

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