Slime run raises money for Love Your Life Week at Maconaquah

·3 min read

Sep. 10—BUNKER HILL — Kids covered in green, pink, blue and yellow slime crossed the finish line Thursday behind Maconaquah High School as school volunteers sprayed them one last time.

For Jess Stapleton, the moment brought her sadness but also lots of joy.

Sadness in knowing the reason behind the slime run. Joy in knowing Maconaquah is doing more for their students.

It's been over a year since Stapleton's son Evan, a Maconaquah student, committed suicide. She only knows a fraction of what tormented her child.

On Thursday, Stapleton witnessed some steps in the right direction. Steps to prevent more cases like her son.

The first-ever slime run was part of Maconaquah's Love Your Life Week, a spin on National Suicide Prevention Week. At the middle school, each day was an opportunity to help students enjoy life and remind them of their worth, according to Tori Shone, school counselor.

One day featured popcorn at lunch. On another, students arrived to find messages of affirmation, such as "You're good enough," and "Push on," taped to each of their lockers.

"We want them to know that they're valued and important," Shone said.

The slime run was an extension of the sentiment. Students, their parents and friends turned out to run and walk the trail that went around the wooded area behind the high school.

"It's a fun night to let loose and get messy and make memories with each other," Shone said.

Slime stations set up along the route made sure no kid went home clean. The slime used, Party Goat Instant Slime, comes in powdered packets. Just add water (it easily washes out of clothes).

Teachers and other school volunteers manned the slime stations. They had just as much, if not more, fun spraying their students.

Participants were treated to hot dogs and snacks afterwards. More than 100 students preregistered for the event. Plenty more showed up Thursday evening, including the high school football team, fresh out of practice.

The run raised money for the middle school counseling department. Funds will go toward future slime runs.

Stapleton volunteered to serve food. She called the evening progress for Maconaquah, which has instituted social-emotional learning concepts at the middle school.

"Maconaquah has stepped up and took the bullying reports seriously," Stapleton said. "This is beyond anything I thought I would ever see."

Students learn about empathy, compassion, what triggers strong emotions and how to respond to them in a positive way. Maconaquah also offers mediation, where students can hash out issues together and work out a resolution.

"We're teaching kids coping skills, the same things you learned in school in health class" middle school principal Craig Jernagan told the crowd before the run began. "We've seen a noticeable difference in kids."

Stapleton, who has another son in high school, said student ID badges have resource phone numbers on them, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

"It's not always just listening to your kids, it's letting others listen too," she said.

Jernagan unveiled a plaque of Stapleton's son that will be placed in the school. It will serve as a reminder to students they can find help at school.

Stapleton praised the school district for being understanding. She said if her older son needs a mental health day, it takes just one phone call. The understanding is there.

Stapleton would like to be an advocate one day and speak to classrooms.

"We don't want this to be another pandemic," she said. "That's not what we need."

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at spencer.durham@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.