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Deans Mill School physical education teacher Sherry Castodio, who was the driving force for getting her school a new track, reacts to the news that the track will be named in her honor at the ribbon cutting on Thursday. The school's art teacher Patti Conway ran over to hug her friend. Douglas Hammel, the principal, and fourth grade students from left, Jose Rodriguez, 10, Austin Lee, 9, and Andre Conceicao, 10, applaud the announcement with other fourth grade students, PTO members, faculty, and local representatives. Jill Connor / The Westerly Sun
Deans Mill Elementary School students, PTO members, faculty and local representatives, celebrate the ribbon cutting for their new track on Thursday morning by doing a walk-a-thon following the ceremony. The track was named in honor of their Physical education teacher Sherry Castodio, who was the driving force for the track. Jill Connor / The Westerly Sun Deans Mill School physical education teacher Sherry Castodio, who was the driving force for getting her school a new track, gets pistachios and flowers from fourth graders Emma O'Keefe and Drew Johnson to thank her for all her efforts at the ribbon cutting for the new track on Thursday. The track was also named in honor of Sherry. The school principal Douglas Hammel stands behind them. Jill Connor / The Westerly Sun Deans Mill School physical education teacher Sherry Castodio, who was the driving force for getting her school a new track, cuts the ribbon for the new track, named in her honor on Thursday. The track was also named in honor of Sherry. Malcolm Taylor holds one of the signs with the track's new track's new name on it.  Jill Connor / The Westerly Sun Deans Mill Elementary School art teacher Patti Conway reaches into a bucket of popsicle sticks to hand out during a walk-a-thon to celebrate the schools new track. Students, PTO members, faculty and local representatives, celebrate the ribbon cutting for their new track on Thursday morning by doing a walk-a-thon following the ceremony. The track was named in honor of their Physical education teacher Sherry Castodio, who was the driving force for the track. Jill Connor / The Westerly Sun

Deans Mill track named for longtime P.E. teacher


STONINGTON — On a new asphalt-surfaced track, a group of fourth-graders at Deans Mill School ran, jogged and walked loops around Sherry Castodio, almost reducing her to tears.

“I’m overwhelmed with happiness,” said Castodio, who has spent 27 of her 31 years in education as the Deans Mill physical education and health teacher. “They have an even, smooth surface to run on. It’s a phenomenal thing to have.”

The Sherry Castodio Track was officially opened Thursday morning, a project years in the making. The track, an eighth-of-a-mile around, replaces the school’s sand and crushed-stone track that was more than a dozen years old, worn, overgrown and, in some spots, barely visible.

“It’s a lot easier to get a grip on the track,” said fourth-grader Ryan Orr, a 10-year-old who set the boys’ mile run record a few weeks ago on the new surface with a time of 6 minutes, 2 seconds. “There’s a lot more space so you’re not crowded out and you can actually see the track and where you’re going.”

Flanked by two sets of playground equipment in the back of the school, the track, in the few weeks it’s been in use, already has changed P.E. at Deans Mill.

“The classes are able to get more exercise because we’re using it a lot more,” Castodio said. “Students are even using it at recess. They’re doing cartwheels around it, skipping around it. It gives them another option of something to do.”

Added fourth-grader Piper Doyle, who set the girls’ mile run record with a time of 6 minutes, 43 seconds: “It’s a lot easier to run when rocks aren’t getting up on your legs.”

Castodio has been the main advocate of the project, which cost $12,000 — a blend of money that came from grants, the school’s PTO, Stonington Education Fund and Wal-Mart.

“It’s not just a track for us, but a track the whole community can use,” Principal Doug Hammel said. “It’s very popular with the kids. It’s a really nice addition.”

For Piper, 10, the new track has an added benefit for another of her interests. “The running helps me with my stamina when I’m doing Irish Step dance.”

alemoine@thewesterlysun.com



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