Originally published Jan. 18, 2018 in the Lancaster Bee.

By Amy Robb, Editor

Stacy Ribbeck, PEP grant coordinator for the Depew School District, outlined the effects of the three-year physical education grant in a presentation to the board on Tuesday night.

“Year one, last year, we primarily focused on the creation of our three state-of-the-art fitness and wellness centers, one in each of our three district buildings,” said Ribbeck.


Community members tour one of the Depew School District’s new fitness centers. Funding for the centers came through a PEP Grant, which also funded the purchase of IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors to be used in schools this year.

“I’m happy to report that all three centers are up and functional and operational, and they are used on a daily basis. At Cayuga and the middle school, they are used for intramurals after school, and here at DHS we open Monday through Thursday, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. for students,” she said.

“Mrs. Cierzo’s class came out on top, and because they accumulated the most minutes during that four-week span, they were given the opportunity to attend the Play 60 party at the ADPRO Training Center with the Buffalo Bills,” added Ribbeck.

Cayuga Heights and the middle school also saw the introduction of the CATCH Nutrition program this year, which was tied into physical education classes because it made sense with established curriculum.

“Through the partnership with Independent Health, we were able to offer assemblies, taste-testing events that give the kids an introduction to things they might not otherwise have the chance to try,” said Ribbeck of the nutrition program.

“The Theatre of Youth came to Cayuga and performed a full skit specifically about eating healthy fruits and vegetables. It was a lot of laughs, and the kids loved it, so it was definitely worthwhile to bring them in.”

Ribbeck highlighted new programs for the upcoming year, such as snowshoeing, fitness technology with the help of IHT Zones heart rate monitors, and changes to existing clubs such as Wildcats on the Move, which is now partnering with Rising New York Road Runners for an extended season.

“Ninth- and 10th-grade classes have started this last week, and from what I’ve seen the kids are really enjoying it. It’s something different, they’re getting out and getting fresh air, and it really seems to be taking off,” said Ribbeck of the snowshoeing class.

“It will also be offered at Cayuga Heights, and we are going to start it within the next month.”

As a way to bring the community in on healthy outdoor activities through the district, there will be the first Wildcat Family Snowshoe Walk on Saturday, Feb. 10. Check www.depewschools.org for a timeframe and location.

IHT Zones heart rate monitors will be used throughout the district in 2018 and help students with aerobic pacing, identifying a target heart rate, staying in an ideal heart rate zone, and comparing the effects of various physical activities.

More upcoming activities under the PEP grant include a Wellcats for Life Summer Day Camp from July 9 to Aug. 3. On the administrative side, the district will implement the Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool, which is designed to help school districts design curricula aligned with national physical education standards.

For more information on PEP grant activity updates, visit www.depewschools.org. The next School Board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 5201 Transit Road in Depew.

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