Bright sunshine, a cool breeze and more than 100 fourth- and fifth-graders waddling like ducks and leaping like frogs Friday seemed an ideal way to dedicate Phoenix Elementary School's new athletic track.

Bright sunshine, a cool breeze and more than 100 fourth- and fifth-graders waddling like ducks and leaping like frogs Friday seemed an ideal way to dedicate Phoenix Elementary School's new athletic track.

The $5,000 project, brought to fruition by the school's dozen-member PTA, students and a community grant from Home Depot, turned an empty field into a ready-to-use physical education site.

The project was completed in the fall. Students raised money through jog-a-thons and other promotions over the last two years to cover ongoing maintenance.

Nine-year-old Brogan Guthrie said he could easily recall "how bad it was to run without having the track."

"We all helped and tried really hard to get the money. I did the walk-a-thon and that definitely helped out," he said.

"As long as I've been here, it's just been a field with no track. When we had to run, we would have a white painted line to show where we had to run, but usually the line would come off the grass and you had to tell where to run by where the grass had been flattened by feet."

Fellow fourth-grader Jordan Hilts said the new track was a good investment of hard-earned money and the grant.

"It was worth it because I like the new track much better than not having one," said the pupil, who's "almost 11."

The Home Depot grant helped buy supplies and materials. Store Manager Jeff Grooms declined to disclose the amount.

"Home Depot likes to contribute to causes toward helping the youth in our community," Grooms said. "We were happy to be able to do that this time. It was a great project."

PTA President Cat Crothers said students truly "had ownership" in the new track.

PTA member and local builder Alan Vos, who designed and helped facilitate the track project, said students worked especially hard.

"The kids walked 3,750 laps" for pledges and donations, Vos said. "That's 625 miles."

Ten-year-old Skyler Loogman said he looks forward to having dry feet, even "on days we have to run" thanks to the school's newest feature.

Said Skyler, "Last year we had to walk on the wet ground that got our shoes all mushy because we didn't have a track. Now our feet will stay dry."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.