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Students

Running makes students better scholars

Friday, June 10, 2011 by: M.Thornley
Tags: students, running, health news

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(NewsTarget) Starting a running club in which students were rewarded for laps did much more than improve fitness at Orchard Grove Elementary School, Frederick, MD. The school discovered that discipline problems dwindled and test scores rose.

As reported by Robert Samuels in the Washington Post, May 30, 2011, Orchard Grove Elementary in Frederick, Maryland, started a mileage club to encourage fitness among its 680 students in fall of 2009. The original goal of the program was to `give students something to do` during recess.

Two years ago teachers noticed that there were more fights and arguments, and the students did not seem to know how to play typical playground games. Most days, seven kids were sent to the assistant principal`s office for discipline.

Physical education teacher Brenda Tarquinio marked off a running area in a grassy field using orange cones. Five laps is a mile. The students use popsicle sticks to keep count of their laps. Achieving 25 laps, or five miles, results in membership in the `mileage club.` Tarquinio awards each five miler with a charm pendant shaped like a shoe.

Other charms were added. Snowflake pendants were given for January running, shamrocks in March, turkeys in November. Students who achieved 26 miles were welcomed to the marathon club, and later, the hundred mile club was established. Teachers ran too to encourage the students. By the end of 2010, running was so popular that 99 percent of the students were in the running club.

The running program at Orchard Grove Elementary, according to Charlene Burgeson, executive director of the National Association of Sport and Physical Education, teaches kids how to pace themselves and gain endurance. While kids experience running in short bursts, this program taught them how to develop running skills.

But results also spilled over into academics, to everyone`s surprise. Dylan Wilson, a student who eventually accumulated 66 charms, posted the second fastest time in the county in the 100 meter dash. A struggling math student in fourth grade, he found himself pulling As in fifth grade. Formerly he`d walked with head down and thought he could not do class work.

Assessments in reading and math showed a 10 percent increase. How much running factored into that, no one could be sure. But with fewer discipline problems, the staff had more time for professional development. Diana Rabideau marveled when her first graders showed improvement in math and that the boys were reading. The teachers found the students were calmer after recess.

In addition, some students lost weight. One lost ten pounds while achieving 33 pendants.

In May the school was awarded $25,000 in competition with approximately 2,200 schools in Henkel Helps Kids Keep Fit grant program, which aims to reward schools for creativity, enthusiasm and originality in health and fitness programs. Orchard Grove plans to use the money for a paved one-fifth-mile track.

Many corporations, Samuels reports, are anxious to support schools in reducing childhood obesity. Some school initiatives have been gardens, more nutritious foods and new playground equipment.
Orchard Grove Elementary drew praise for creating a simple solution.

http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/local/orchar...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/educatio...
http://www.gazette.net/stories/01202011/brun...



About the author

M. Thornley enjoys walking, writing and pursuing a raw vegan diet and lifestyle.

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