How many elementary school children know about track and field? More in Santa Barbara do after last Wednesday.

The UCSB track team took time out from finals week to visit Vieja Valley School for a special assembly.

While other sports often have feeder programs that allow for introduction at an early age, it’s less common with track and field.

UCSB track coach Josh Priester talked to the students about how track and field events made up the very first Olympics, and he stressed how running and jumping are part of so many of the sports young children play today, such as basketball, soccer and football.

With the college athletes leading them, Vieja Valley students progressed through several events, including hurdles, bounding (jumping) and relay. The students also watched a javelin demonstration.

Vieja Valley Principal Mariann Cooley cheered on her pupils and noted the academic benefits to exercise.

“Physical education and living a healthy lifestyle helps students to focus while in class,” she said, adding that she enjoyed watching the college athletes interact with kids from their community. “The UCSB students were motivated when they saw how excited our students were. Our students treated them like celebrities.”

The assembly was part of the school’s Jogathon kickoff. While many Jogathon events focus on raising money, fun and fitness got the spotlight here.

Students have one month to collect sponsors for Jogathon Day, which will be Friday, April 15. On that day, the students will run, jog or walk as many laps as they can around a circle track for 30 minutes.

Proceeds from the Jogathon go directly to programs the school district does not completely fund, such as art, science, library, computers and physical education.

— Nicole Young is chairwomen of the Jogathon at Vieja Valley School.