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Jefferson Elementary students get into Boilermaker spirit with construction of Finisher Pins

By By GARY LIBERATORE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - There may be a little more than three weeks to go before Boilermaker Sunday, but students at Jefferson Elementary School in Utica got into the spirit on their last day of classes.

On Friday morning, the Kindergarten through fifth graders put together the Finisher Pins for the runners. The pins came in a bag of 100, then the kids attached a "thank you" and "congratulations" card to the pin and inserted them into individual bags.

Fifth grade teacher Sandy Inkawhich says this isn't the first time the school kids have been involved in Boilermaker preparations.

"Three years ago, we filled the gift bags for the runners, and last year, we went on the Parkway and cleaned up," Inkawhich said. "This year, we cleaned up and we're doing the pins."

Boilermaker Race spokesperson Mary MacEnroe says these pins are worth their weight in gold to the runners.

"It's their medal," MacEnroe said. "A lot of them wear them, they put them in display cases. So, it's a very important part to the runners."

The help at Jefferson Elementary on Friday included kindergartner Mariam Adam Djouma, and her brother Ahmat, who is in 5th grade. They are both blind, and both just arrived in Utica eight weeks ago from Sudan.

Teacher's aide Barb Ellis works with Mariam,

"She's learning how to do some of her letters, she knows a lot of her numbers," said Teacher's Aide Barb Ellis, who works with Mariam. "She's made so many friends. She can almost walk across the room. She's done great."

The siblings and another sister lost their sight because of poor health conditions in their homeland. In just 8 weeks here, Inkawhich says Ahmat has actually learned how to count using an abacus and has done some writing.

"We have an interpreter, which we are very thankful to have," Inkawhich said. "So, he wrote an essay about what his life was like before he came here and he was able to share that with the kids. He was a farmer, and he's familiar with vegetables."

So when you cross the finish line this year, and get that much coveted pin, you'll know a little bit about its trip into your hands.

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