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Hopkinton Middle School teachers developing Marathon curriculum

Teacher Debra Pinto had the idea of using the Boston Marathon in coursework.

Kayana Szymczak for The Boston Globe

Teacher Debra Pinto had the idea of using the Boston Marathon in coursework.

A group of Hopkinton Middle School teachers has created an interdisciplinary curriculum they hope will be used by teachers in classrooms around the world to teach students about the powerful spirit of the marathon from its start in ancient Greece to the streets of Boston.

The marathon-based curriculum, dubbed “Desire to Inspire,” which will bring aspects of the 26.2-mile run into each discipline, is the brainchild of Hopkinton Middle School health and physical education teacher Debra Pinto.

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Pinto said the curriculum is, in part, an attempt to move beyond the terrorist bombings at last year’s Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured hundreds.

“After what happened in Boston last year, I wanted a way to bring the spirit of the Marathon into our curriculum,” said Pinto. “We needed to move forward and tap into the positive spirit.”

Pinto and a group of teachers and administrators in Hopkinton have been meeting at 6:45 each Friday morning since fall to come up with a blueprint for bringing the Boston Marathon and all the lessons it has to offer into classrooms.

In Math class, students will use Boston Marathon finish times from past races to make various calculations.

Science students will learn about the effect endurance training has on the human body, and how nutrition can affect performance.

‘I wanted a way to bring the spirit of the Marathon into our curriculum. We needed to move forward and tap into the positive spirit.’

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And history teachers will make a connection between the ancient Greeks’ battle for freedom at Marathon and the fight for freedom that is the backdrop of the race started each Patriots Day at the center of town.

The idea is not only to bring the lessons of the marathon into the classroom to teach 21st-century thinking, but also to create a school community through enrichment programs, guest speakers, fund-raisers, competitions, and sports.

The curriculum Pinto and other teachers have developed will soon be used as a model that teachers anywhere can copy.

“The idea is that we wanted to share it with schools along the marathon route from Hopkinton to Boston, and then share it with the rest of the world,” Pinto said.

Karen White, who specializes in elementary and secondary education curriculum instruction at the state Department of Education, said she thinks that’s exactly what might happen.

White said Pinto was able to see units developed by other teachers on the education department’s website to use as a model.

“Teachers can develop curriculum,” said White. “Show them how, and give them the resources, and we now have a wonderful model that we’re hoping can be added to the repertoire of what’s available.”

The hope is that the Hopkinton marathon curriculum will inspire lessons that reverberate beyond the middle school classrooms.

Hopkinton Public Library director Rownak P. Hussain said the library is planning two programs to complement the marathon theme.

There will be an art program for people of all ages to write or draw “their Desire to Inspire throughout life,” on sneakers that will be displayed throughout town, and guest speaker Michael Tougias, who Hussain called “an inspirational writer,” will give a presentation.

“Our goal is to help the teachers by supporting the curriculum in the community,” Hussain said.

The effort to use the marathon as a starting point for a variety of interdisciplinary discussions is something Tim Kilduff of the 26.2 Coalition has been talking about for the global marathon center being planned for a site at Legacy Farms about a mile from the Boston Marathon starting line.

He and representatives from the Boston University Classics department, the Hellenic American Alpha Omega Council, and The Examined Life: Greek Studies in the Schools were at a recent luncheon at Hopkinton Middle School with Pinto, other teachers, and administrators to show support for the idea.

In addition, Ifigenia Kanapa, the Greek consul general, was also there giving her approval, and outlining plans by the Greek Consul in Boston to present wreaths to the Boston Marathon finishers in a ceremony at the State House after this year’s race.

“The Marathon is something that is so important to this community,” said Kilduff. “We are creating an idea here today in Hopkinton, with these teachers, that we can literally share with the world.”

Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@gmail.com.
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