SOURCE: Saint Andrew's Episcopal School

Saint Andrew's Episcopal School

September 14, 2010 12:15 ET

Fitness and Wellness Program at Saint Andrew's Episcopal School Includes Incentives for Students to "Race Across the Country"

In His Book "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain," Dr. John Ratey, MD Links Health and Education Outcomes With School-Based Physical Activity

SARATOGA, CA--(Marketwire - September 14, 2010) -  Saint Andrew's Episcopal School (http://www.st-andrews.org/) today announced the kick-off of its annual "Race Across the Country," now entering its 25th year. The annual competition for the school's sixth, seventh and eighth graders includes incentives for students to accumulate running miles throughout the school year. A prominently posted map of the U.S. showing each team's virtual progress across the country contributes to motivation, perseverance, and dedication as students encourage and assist each other in improving pace and distance to earn bonus points. Each year, the winning class is rewarded with a day off school with a trip to Seabright State Beach in Santa Cruz, California.

"The continual feedback we receive from students, parents and high school admission officers is overwhelmingly positive," said Roger Adams, Physical Education teacher at Saint Andrew's Episcopal School who runs the program along with teacher Brenda Thornburg. "These testimonials combined with our own anecdotal evidence indicate that our students are not only in top physical shape, they are more mentally prepared to enter high school as a result of our overall Fitness and Wellness Program." 

In the 2009 / 2010 academic school year, the seventh graders earned the coveted beach trip as they accumulated 3,700 miles, the equivalent of running from California to Florida and then north to Georgia. One hundred and fifty miles behind them were the sixth graders with the eighth graders some four hundred miles behind, finishing in third place.

Dr. John Ratey, associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain," is dedicated to urging Americans to give up their sedentary, electronics-driven lifestyles. Citing the latest breakthroughs in neurobiological research, he has sparked an international movement founded upon clinical evidence that exercise is absolutely essential for healthy brain development. Today's children are most at risk, he says, issuing an urgent plea for parents and educators to stop the "dumbing down" of a generation and to rethink the role of exercise in promoting learning and emotional health.

"After 40 years as a teacher, coach and athletic director, I believe the evidence is clear that the academic success of America's youth is strongly linked with their health," said Terry Ward, Athletic Director Emeritus, Bellarmine College Prep. "We are continually impressed by the overall well-being of the graduates of Saint Andrew's who are entering our school. Instead of cutting fitness and wellness programs from the educational environment, we need to persist in embedding them into every student's curriculum."

Other Fitness and Wellness Program activities at Saint Andrew's include a Morning Running Club, a continuing conditioning program with stretching and strengthening, softball, basketball, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, simple yoga and sprint relays indoors. Through this variety of activity, new physical skills are taught while a basic skill foundation is developed and maintained.

"I see today how the Saint Andrew's Fitness and Wellness Program not only challenged me physically, but also prepared me to become a successful student throughout high school and college. The demands of training taught me how to manage my time and prioritize what is most important to become a successful student athlete," shared Serena (Delaplace) Williams, Saint Andrew's alumna, '93. "I was also taught that success was not just winning but it was the journey which brought me success. I attribute the confidence and success I've had throughout my adult life to those early lessons of training, discipline, and working hard to achieve a goal."

Saint Andrew's Lower School of Kindergarten through fifth grade has its own version of "Race Across the Country" that tracks how many minutes students can run without stopping with goals scaled by grade level. Other Fitness and Wellness activities include hoops, balls, ladders, jump ropes, relay races with batons, and cooperative learning.

About Saint Andrew's Episcopal School
Founded in 1961, Saint Andrew's Episcopal School is a coeducational, pre-K through 8th grade day school. Saint Andrew's offers a traditional academic program with enrichment in the areas of the studio and performing arts, physical education, foreign languages, technology, character development, and community service. The school aims to educate the whole student, developing as fully as possible the intellectual, spiritual, physical, and social capacities of each student. For more information, visit http://www.st-andrews.org/.

Contact Information

  • Media contact:
    Linda Capcara
    LVA Communications
    (480) 229-7090
    linda@lva.com

    School contact:
    Lisa Robinson
    Saint Andrew's Episcopal School
    (408) 867-3785 x266
    lrobinson@st-andrews.org