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New Berlin schools get physical

Goal is to make exercise routine

Nov. 26, 2012

New Berlin - In a few weeks, New Berlin school officials could know how many students are physically fit enough to be considered in good health.

This fall, the schools started a testing program with seven measures of fitness, most important of which is aerobic capacity, considered the biggest single indicator of whether heart attacks, diabetes and other common serious conditions can be avoided, Eisenhower Middle/High School physical education teacher Kevin Sowinski told the New Berlin School Board on Monday.

The other tests measure such factors as strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition.

The testing shows students their current state of fitness so new goals can be set to achieve a health-enhancing fitness level. The program is designed to help students establish physical activity as part of their daily lives.

Parents are being informed of the test results and of all fitness goals and plans.

Retesting will take place in spring.

The fitness testing program known as Fitnessgram is a battery of health-related fitness tests developed by the Dallas-based Cooper Institute. The institute, established in 1970, is a nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to preventive medicine. The institute's founder, Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, is regarded as the "Father of Aerobics."

Fitnessgram is the only nationally recognized fitness program and was recently adopted by the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness, said Katie Mulloy, elementary school physical fitness teacher who is mainly at Elmwood Elementary School.

So far, testing has been completed at Ronald Reagan and Poplar Creek elementary schools and testing is almost done at Orchard Lane and Elmwood elementary schools, Mulloy said. Testing has started at both the middle and high schools, Sowinski said.

Information is confidential

The only concern school officials have heard is from just a few parents who want to be sure their children's weight and body mass index be kept confidential. That information is kept strictly confidential, Sowinski assured. He even makes sure other students cannot see the scale when he weighs the students, he said.

Board member Tom David said he can understand the parents' concern.

"Parents must be sure the information does not leave the school district," David said.

The teachers' report received plenty of School Board support.

"Knowing what we can work on will be great," School Board President David Maxey said of the parent involvement part of the program.

"It's important for our students to know where they stand fitnesswise," said board member Art Marquardt.

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