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Focus on Fitness

Burrell Elementary Fitness Awards

Elementary physical education teachers Steve White and Justin Miller hope that their new program will take students’ focus on fitness out of the school gymnasium and into everyday life.

This year, the teachers will implement the Burrell Elementary Fitness Awards, a substitute for the Presidential Physical Fitness Awards that the schools have taken part of in past years. “Our main goal with the awards is to promote lifelong fitness,” says Mr. White. “We wanted to come up with a program that more kids could be successful at, to plant the idea that they can be successful with fitness even at an early age.”

Rather than lower the bar set by the Presidential Fitness Awards, Mr. White and Mr. Miller tweaked the scoring system. Under the national program, if a student performs poorly in one event, he or she is disqualified from earning an award. The Burrell program, however, rates each event by a point system. A scale of the total points earned determines what level of award the student receives. This enables students who do poorly in one area, but excel in others, to still earn an award.
Miller and White also made some adjustments and additions to the events themselves. Some of the tests were impractical for the time restraints of one class period. “We replaced the shuttle run with the 25 yard dash,” Mr. White explains. “Both events measure leg strength, but the dash fits our time parameter better.”

In addition to the dash, students in first through fifth grades will be tested on chin-ups, sit-ups, distance running, the standing broad jump, and a sit-and-reach test. The teachers also incorporated some events that relate to the extracurricular activities of some students, by adding a softball throw and an agility course, similar to what football or soccer players might use in training. “Not only does the agility test measure speed and athleticism, but it also takes into account the ability to follow directions, with students following a pattern with cones,” Mr. Miller says.

They started planning the Burrell Elementary Fitness Awards last year, testing students to determine a baseline for the scoring system. Standards were set by grade level (rather than age) and gender. Testing will take place throughout the year, one event at a time, with ample practice time built into the schedule. Students will be eligible to earn one of three levels of the award: Blue, White or Yellow. They will receive an award certificate in the spring once testing is complete.

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