They’re off in the Clark County Preschool Derby

Published 4:04 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2023

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Millions watched as Mage took home the ultimate prize in the 149th Kentucky Derby but a day earlier the Clark County Preschool staff and students held their version of the Run for the Roses.

The preschool’s race was its maiden outing.

“A couple of my staff members brought it to my attention,” said Jill Blanton, the Principal of Clark County Preschool. “They [came] to me one day and asked me if we could have a first annual Clark County Preschool Derby‚Ķand I said, ‘Absolutely!'”

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At Clark County Preschool, over 300 students attend, with sixteen classrooms present. Before Derby Day, each classroom had its race and crowned its top-performing boy and girl.

The sixteen class winners comprised the two races between the boys and girls of each class.

Before the races could begin, classes were brought out with the students not participating, serving as fans and bystanders.

Many of them got into the spirit of Kentucky Derby weekend, with boys wearing fedoras or bowler hats and girls dressed in colorful outfits with equally colorful headwear.

Hats had been made for students as part of the most recent family involvement project, which takes place monthly at the school.

Signs were held up to show support for fellow competitors.

To create the “horses” for the race, invention and innovation kicked in.

Pool noodles were folded at the top and taped, ensuring the appearance of a horse.

Nelda Conkwright and Barbara Conkwright, assistant teachers at the school, are the staff members who came up with the idea for the Preschool Derby.

“We had a lot of parents participate. We had a lot of kids dressed up like they were going to the Derby and wear their Derby hats,” said Nelda Conkwright. “We thank all the families for participating, and we hope that we can do the same next year.”

After instructions were given – including the fact that students must be riding the “horse” at all times each class leader was called out by name.

The racers made their way to the bottom of a hill and once the race started and raced toward the top, where, like the actual Kentucky Derby, a finish line awaited them.

Although both races required video review, using a cellular phone that another teacher used to record, the result was clear.

For the boys, the first-place student was Carter Exum, with Drake Underwood and Cohen Clark finishing in second and third place.

For the girls, the first-place student was Emma Woods, with Kennedy Mejia-Sowers and Abriel Huguely finishing in second and third place.

Not to be overlooked, faculty raced as well.

Roy Lowry slightly edged out both Brooke Bristow and Hannah Abner.

Officially, there may have been first, second, and third-place finishers.

However, according to Blanton, the biggest reward was the student experience.

“The most exciting part is seeing the kids come together outside and seeing the kids laugh and smile and cheer on their classmates,” she said.