The Ottumwa Courier


November 12, 2012

AREA SPORTS NOTEBOOK: Pekin Elementary wins Presidential Physical Fitness state title

OTTUMWA — Every year, the President’s Challenge presents three super-fit schools from each state with its exclusive State Champion Award.

This year, one southeast Iowa school stood out as the having the most physically fit students in the state.

Pekin Elementary School finished first in the state for the past school, finishing with the highest percentage of students qualifying for the Presidential Physical Fitness Award. Students qualify by earning scores in the 85th percentile or higher on the Physical Fitness Test.

Pekin finished with the highest statewide percentage for the Physical Fitness Test as 31.9 percent of elementary students qualified in the 85th percentile. Pekin won the state honor as a category two school, or a school with anywhere from 201 to 500 elementary students enrolled.

Only schools (including home schools) with 50 or more students are currently eligible for the State Champion Award. The other state champions were Heritage Christian School in DeWitt in Category I (50-200 students) with 13.7 percent of students qualified while South Tama had 10 percent of their students qualify for the presidential fitness award to win the Category III honor (500 students or more).

Overall, Pekin currently ranks 11th statewide in terms of total number of elementary students that have qualified for the Presidential fitness award. The criteria is for students to earn the honor is gained through the Physical Fitness Test given every school year and consists of various tests, including curl-ups (or partial curl-ups), a shuttle run, an endurance run/walk, pull-ups (or right angle push ups or flexed-arm hang) and a v-sit reach (or sit and reach).

“We are very proud of that accomplishment and will continue to strive to be the healthiest school in Iowa,” Pekin elementary physical education teacher LuAnn Swanson said.

According to Swanson, students in fourth, fifth and sixth grade were able to order state championship T-shirts. Students at Pekin also took part in a 30-minute walk for Fall Fitness Day and Iowa’s ‘Healthiest State Initiative.

“It was fun to see how the students reacted to the fitness walk and how much they really enjoyed the exercise,” Swanson said. “We had 633 students and 71 faculty and staff exercising at the same time.”

The fall portion of the school year has seen Pekin Elementary students continue to stay active from hop scotch, ladder and snail on the playground for K-2 students to the annual soccer tournament for fifth graders. Later this school year, Pekin will aim to defend their state title by taking the Physical Fitness Test for the 2012-13 school year, the final year the test will be available.

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