Originally published Sept. 27, 2017 in The Zebra.
Polk was one of only six schools in the state of Virginia to receive the award. Four hundred and fifty-two U.S. schools, representing 37 states plus the District of Columbia, were recognized for their outstanding efforts to create an active school environment. Polk celebrated the achievement during their walk-to-school event on Oct. 4.
“Keeping kids physically active and channeling their energy in positive ways is a big part of our days at Polk. We know that students are better learners when they are healthy and well. Offering a variety of ways for kids to engage in healthful activities improves their attention and focus and benefits everyone in the classroom,” said James K. Polk Principal Pree Ann Johnson.
To earn a Let’s Move Active Schools National Award, schools must meet significant benchmarks in five areas: physical education; physical activity before and after school; physical activity during school; staff involvement; and family and community engagement.
In addition to 60 minutes of movement during physical education classes each week and 20 minutes of recess each day at Polk, movement is included in the classroom through activities such as brain boosts, Go-Noodle and Cosmic Yoga. Many teachers also use movement to teach academic concepts.
Students have fitness opportunities before and after school through clubs such as soccer, Zumba, basketball, yoga, cheerleading, fencing and a running club. Polk also holds Fitness Fridays once a month where the entire school and community are encouraged to walk to school; bus riders are dropped off a quarter mile from the school and walk the remainder of the way. And, Polk offers fitness challenge calendars to students and encourages the students to include their parents in the challenges. Polk students, families and staff also participate in the Marine Corp Fun Run.
“The administrators, teachers, staff and parents in these schools understand that physical education and physical activity are a must-have for students to reach their full potential in school and life. Studies show that active kids do better. Physical activity not only helps kids stay healthy and strong, but it can also contribute to higher test scores, improved attendance, better behavior in class, enhanced leadership skills and a lifetime of healthy habits.” said Charlene Burgeson, Active Schools Executive Director.