POTTSTOWN PA – When Pottsgrove School District officials applied last year for a grant to fund programs that would keep students fit and healthy during the day, they envisioned much of the activity to be held outdoors. They expected to take advantage of bright sunshine, fresh air, “and all that open space,” Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School Principal Yolanda Williams recalled, as she motioned toward her office window and the play fields beyond.
What they didn’t count on was Mother Nature’s lack of cooperation.
Which is why Monday recess at Lower Pottsgrove has been a sanity saver for teachers and pupils alike.
The grant from the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, obtained through what Williams described as “the hard work” of Director of Pupil Services Ann Myers and Supervisor of Special Education Michelle Macluckie, was divided among Pottsgrove’s five buildings. Each principal could then determine how best to use the allocated cash to promote fitness goals.
“I think when we get kids moving and active, they pay better attention to their studies. They feel refreshed,” Williams said. For that kind of revitalization, she turned to Gilbertsville-based Fresh Start Fitness, owned and operated by Aaron Christ. His company’s two trainers have spent recent Mondays in the Buchert Road school gym, providing six half-hour classes throughout the day for all Lower’s students.
Trainers Shawn Talarico and Kurt Weiser obviously had their hands full with Monday’s 12:30 p.m. group of about 125 rambunctious youngsters. They were loud, anxious to expend pent-up energy, and ready for fun. Neither of the men disappointed. After brief introductions, they had their charges limbering up, stretching, and running in place.
Then the real work of play began.
The two divided the large group into teams of about equal size and put them through their paces. Students ran around small pylons, jumped low hurdles, and performed push-ups and sit-ups. They shadow-boxed (“remember, we’re not going to throw any real punches,” Talarico warned), and pretended they were one-legged flamingos or professional dancers.
Legs lifted, arms twirled, torsos flexed. By the end of 30 minutes, the trainers were dealing with a vastly quieter crowd.
Relying on the gym represents Williams’ “Plan B.” Like the children she oversees, Williams can’t wait to be rid of winter so everyone can move outdoors and onto the fields … as she had hoped from the start.
Photos for The Post Publications by Joe Zlomek