GES Students, Staff Chase Fitness Goals And More
Keeping students active throughout the school week is a priority for the Granville Central School District. At Granville Elementary, Physical Education Teacher Gabriella Hunt has put her own twist on how to best keep students engaged with their fitness goals.
Fitness Friday was already in place when Ms. Hunt joined the GES faculty two years ago, but she has put her own stamp on how to create opportunities for students and staff alike to tap into their athletic potential.
“A school week can be long for students, and we want to make sure they are able to maintain their energy level at the end of the week,” said Ms. Hunt.
Fitness Friday periods are made up of two classes meeting at the same time. It’s part of the three days of physical education classes every grade level completes. The core principles of Fitness Fridays follow the five components of physical fitness: body composition, flexibility, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and cardiorespiratory endurance. Every activity or unit Ms. Hunt included in her lesson plan follows these principles. She also makes sure she doesn’t lose focus on the games being fun and something every student can participate in.
During the warmer months, Ms. Hunt brings her classes outside and plays games ranging from kickball to relay races. While physical activity and ability will always be important during Fitness Fridays, she believes the sportsmanship and communication students show is the biggest lesson anyone can take away from any of their PE classes, especially Fitness Friday.
“These are bigger classes with more students, and there’s a level of trust and responsibility that falls on the students when it comes to making sure nobody is getting hurt or left out. I’m really impressed with all our classes and grade levels that students take it upon themselves to make sure their classmates are included and are having as much fun as they can.”
The larger classes also provide students a chance to interact with students they otherwise might not get to see during the school day. Ms. Hunt believes bringing students together in a group setting helps create a more active and sociable school environment.
“One of the biggest successes I’ve seen come from Fitness Fridays is how it’s helped bring some students out of their shells. We’ve had some of our students come into the Friday activities a little shy or timid. That’s why I mix up the teams to give students the chance to plan and compete with students from a different class. It’s really helped build confidence and comfortability in our kids, and in turn, they’ve become more vocal and helpful to others.”
Fridays aren’t limited to student participation either. Teachers and staff throughout the building are encouraged to join the class and get involved in the games the students are playing.
“Having other teachers stop in and participate is tremendous,” said Ms. Hunt. “It gives the students another role model to look up to, and shows them that being active and staying physically fit isn’t just something for kids to do during the day. It energizes the students and makes the activities more fun when they get to do something with their teachers. For example, Principal Talmadge is constantly coming into the Fitness Friday classes, and the students absolutely love it. It energizes the entire school to see her get involved and have fun with us.”
At the end of the day, Ms. Hunt knows the name of the game is to have fun.
“No matter what the kids are doing, they love and enjoy coming to the gym on Fridays to be active with their peers,” said Ms. Hunt. “Typically when I create a lesson plan, I focus on integrating concepts that students are learning in their non-PE classes. I want every student to look forward to Fitness Friday activities. It’s gratifying to see the students enjoying themselves.”