1/25/12 Fitness Challenge comes to area middle schools

Fitness Challenge comes to area middle schools
Seventh-graders Krishna Patel, 12, Becca Riley, 12, and Kayla Moore, 13, work on their curl-ups Tuesday as part of the Middle

Sam Roberts / Times-News

Seventh-graders Krishna Patel, 12, Becca Riley, 12, and Kayla Moore, 13, work on their curl-ups Tuesday as part of the Middle School Fitness Challenge at Turrentine Middle School.

By Mike Wilder The Times-News 1/25/12     
Reprinted with permission.

   Want to encourage middle school students to work harder on reaching physical fitness goals? Offer bragging rights.    P.E. teachers in the Alamance-Burlington School System said the Middle School Fitness Challenge has given students extra motivation. Students at Broadview, Graham, Hawfields, Southern, Turrentine, Western and Woodlawn middle schools compete against each other to see which schools’ students do best in categories such as push-ups and curl-ups.

   Kevin Wellman teaches P.E. and health at Turrentine Middle School.

   He said the effort got started after P.E. teachers agreed it would be a good way to boost student interest in activities designed to measure and encourage fitness.

   After the push-ups and curl-ups competitions, Turrentine is in the lead. Hawfields Middle Schools is in second place, with Graham Middle School a close third.

   Teachers compile results from how students perform on different fitness activities. Sometimes, that means comparing top results from one school to the next. Other times, the comparison is done using an average of how students do overall.

   With the goal of increasing fitness among students, Wellman said, the question becomes “How do we motivate students?”

   It’s helped for students to compare results, not just among their classmates, but among their counterparts elsewhere: “We show then where they stand against other kids in the county.”

   Upcoming comparisons will be made in areas such as flexibility and running.

   Wellman said he’s seen results as measured by a program the system put in place this year to assess student fitness. Before the Middle School Fitness Challenge, he said, “75 percent of our kids (at Turrentine) were in the healthy/fit zone, which is not bad at all.”

   With the challenge, “We went from 75 to 86 percent.”

   Ultimately, Wellman said, he’d like to be able to offer prizes such as pedometers to encourage students to do well.    B.J. Condron teaches P.E. and coaches basketball at Hawfields Middle School. Even without prizes, he said, the good-natured competition has been a big incentive for students.

   “If you ask students to do a minute of push-ups with no rewards in sight, they’ll look at you like you’re crazy,” he said. “Adding that competitive aspect to fitness has definitely made them more interested.” Macy Lewis, an eighth-grade student at Turrentine Middle School, agreed. “It’s fun, because you try to beat the other middle schools,” she said. “You try your best because you want your school to come out on top.”