Super Senior: R.J. Noonan

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Homecoming weekend at Rice High School and the rain is threatening to dampen the fun.

The storm is fleeting, and a fun run will go on. Named the R.J. Run in honor of longtime Rice teacher and track coach, R.J. Noonan.

"I like to say this is the day the Lord has made, well he gave us a little rain to dampen down the dust, so go out and have a good run," Noonan said.

They're celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the school first called Cathedral High School, now called Rice. But there is another milestone. R.J. is turning 87.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You have the enthusiasm of a teenager.

R.J. Noonan: I take great pride in the fact that I ever progressed past 15.

Noonan's wife Bridget and son Rob are participating in the 5K. Most will run while others will walk. Mark McKenna has come to see his old coach -- he took R.J.'s place over two decades ago. "He was a great coach. He instilled a love of running in me. That's what I hope to do in our athletes, keep everyone running," McKenna said.

Noonan presides at the starting line and signals for the race to begin. "And they're off," he said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: When people come up to you and say, I'm still running because of you.

R.J. Noonan:: That, now, I'm extremely pleased.

The R.J. Run is also a fundraiser. The money helps support the over 400 students who go to the Catholic school. "You know, we're teachers, I want it to be a learning lifestyle," he said.

His days of running are over. His influence in the classroom never stopped. Noonan started teaching in 1959. For the past 20 years, he's been substituting. Today, it's honors chemistry. Noonan is candid about his struggles with science when he was their age. "To me, they're not teenagers, they're people, so I don't mind them knowing my limitations," he said.

"I like how he does Saint of the Day," said one student.

"When you hear that R.J. is going to be your sub, everyone in the class goes, yes! It's going to be a good class," said another student.

Generations apart, but a common bond -- respect.

"Have a good weekend and stay in a state of grace, " said Noonan, as his students leave for the weekend.

Not a bad run at Rice.