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Hudson -- Evamere Elementary School students recently welcomed a special guest to their physical education class,
Track and field Olympian Bridget Franek was on hand to help the school celebrate being named one of only 540 "Let's Move Get Active," schools across the country. The school qualified for the award in April by meeting 10 set fitness factors.
The award celebrates schools committed to helping students exercise 60 minutes a day before, during and after school as part of First Lady Michelle Obama's message of health and fitness to the students. The school was also given a display banner, a certificate and signed letter from Obama.
"We are thrilled to be only one of eight schools in Ohio to be qualified," Sheri Porter, the school's physical education teacher, said.
Franek, who lives in Hiram and attended Crestwood Schools, was a guest at two Evamere physical education classes Sept. 29 as a spokesperson for Obama's initiative.
"The students were very excited to see an Olympian, especially after the recent summer Olympics," Porter said. "Bridget Franek was a great reinforcement for what we already do in phys ed class -- the kiddos loved when she joined them in their warm-up locomotor movements."
Franek, whose event is the steeplechase, talked about the skills needed to compete and brought a variety of items to show the classes.
"Bridget also showed the students some running moves and explained it was all about doing her best and finishing the racenot always about winning," Porter added.
Franek, a member of Athletes for Hope, which has partnered with Let's Move by sending representatives to qualified schools.
"I came out to Evamere and participated in three first-grade gym classes," Franek said. "I brought some show-and-tell items from my track career, which included race shoes, race numbers, and medals, for the kids to see and check out."
Franek also talked about the importance of being active and how her career in sports was strongly linked to the healthy habits formed when she was their age.
Franek, who qualified for the Olympics in 2012, participated in a 2014 program in Oregon where she was an interim physical education teacher and created a class curriculum.
"It was seven weeks and I was given a lot of freedom to come up with the curriculum," Franek said. "It was extremely challenging because I didn't have much support and help with classroom management."
Franek has also helped with other after-school programs dealing with fitness, she said.
"I learned a lot about helping kids enjoy being physically active," she said.
Franek was impressed with the physical education teachers at Evamere.
"Having had the experiences in Eugene working with schools and kids, I was extremely impressed with the physical education teachers at Evamere. The kids were so well behaved and were able to operate very efficiently. I could tell the teachers had been consistent and diligent," she added. "Because of that, they were capable of playing games and performing physical skills that they would not otherwise be able to do at their age."
And while the staff and students worked hard during Franek's visit, according to Porter, hard work is not just reserved for special occasions.
"Evamere Elementary School's staff and students work hard every day to build the physical and emotional health of an entire generation to lead us in the future years to come," Porter said.
For additional information on the First Lady's program, visit www.letsmoveschools.org.