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Students at Rural Colo. School Get Active, Gain National Attention

One rural Colorado elementary school is putting an emphasis on physical activity and earning national attention for its program.

Red Hawk Elementary School in Erie, Colo., mandates students participate in up 40 minutes of physical activity each day, and that's in addition to recess and P.E. classes. Movement and exercise are "foundational elements of the school culture," according to the school's website.

Students spend about 20 minutes in the morning rotating through exercises, such as power walking or dancing, and they spend another 20 minutes in the afternoon doing so, usually before their most challenging academic subjects, such as science or English. And on Fridays, the entire 460-student school heads outside to do a coordinated fitness routine set to music.

The school was one of nine winners in the national Active Schools Acceleration Project's Innovation Competition, which First Lady Michelle Obama and ChildObesity180 launched in early 2012.

Red Hawk Elementary received a $25,000 grant for its fitness program, and school leaders said they planned to put it toward monitoring students' fitness by measuring heart rate and doing fitness evaluations, according to a story in The Times-Call in Longmont, Colo.

The school, which opened in August 2011, also was visited by one of the federal education department's Teaching Ambassador Fellows last fall, and he blogged about his perceptions of the school.

Specifically, fellow Mike Humphreys wrote that one statistic summed up the "Red Hawk way:" last year, 96 percent of third, fourth and fifth graders said they look forward to coming to school each and every day. It's hard to argue with that.

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