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LP-A busts a move: Lake Park-Audubon Elementary receives national ‘Active Schools’ award

All students and staff at Lake Park-Audubon Elementary School gathered in the school's main gymnasium Wednesday for an assembly to announce that the school was the recipient of a Let's Move! Active Schools National Award for 2016. LP-A Elementary was one of nine schools in Minnesota, and 544 nationwide, to receive the designation this year. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
Lake Park-Audubon Elementary physical education teacher Lori Wixo proudly holds up the certificate and letter from First Lady Michelle Obama that the school received this Wednesday, as one of nine schools in Minnesota to receive a 201t6 Let's Move Active Schools National Award. A total of 544 schools across the U.S. earned the designation this year.2 / 2

When the 2016-17 school year at Lake Park-Audubon Elementary officially got underway on Tuesday, physical education teacher Lori Wixo began hinting to her students that she had "a big secret."

"I've known about it since April," Wixo said on Thursday. "It's been hard to keep quiet."

But by Wednesday afternoon, she was finally able to share her secret with fellow staff members and students: LP-A Elementary was one of just nine schools in Minnesota to be chosen as a recipient of the "Let's Move!" Active Schools National Award for 2016.

Established by First Lady Michelle Obama, the national "Let's Move!" initiative was intended as an incentive for schools across the U.S. to provide students with least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, by offering recreational opportunities before, during and after school.

The Active Schools National Award was established to celebrate the commitment of schools participating in the "Let's Move!" initiative to providing the suggested 60 minutes of daily physical activity for their students. In all, a total of 544 schools across the U.S. were honored with this designation in 2016.

Though they didn't make the presentation in person, the initiative's chief spokespersons both lauded LP-A for its achievement.

"I applaud these schools for creating Active School environments that are inspiring students to be more engaged learners and ensuring that physical education and physical activity continue to be an important part of every child's educational experience," said Obama in announcing the list of award recipients on Wednesday.

"We commend Lake Park-Audubon Elementary for their work to enhance physical education and physical activity opportunities, and for inspiring students to go from zero to 60, both in the classroom and in life," added Charlene Burgeson, executive director of the Let's Move! Active Schools program.

To make the official announcement, a school assembly was held Wednesday afternoon.

"Lake Park-Audubon Elementary is 1 of 544 schools in the country that received a '2016 Let's Move! Active Schools National Award' for creating an active school environment," Wixo said during the assembly. "In Minnesota, we are 1 of 9 schools chosen for this national award.

"We received a certificate, and a letter from the First Lady that will be hung on the wall by our school office entryway," she said after making the official announcement. "We will also be receiving a new banner to display in our gym."

Wixo said in a subsequent interview that there were five criteria the school had to meet in order to qualify for the award, including not only regular physical education classes and physical activity before, during and after school, but also staff involvement and engagement of the students' families, as well as the community as a whole.

Besides the expanded elementary playground that made its official debut last week, some of the other initiatives introduced at LP-A over the past several years include:

Raider Mileage Club: A walking program, established three years ago, where students in grades 4-6 are provided with incentives to walk or run a mile every day, before school or during recess. Staff members punch a student's card each time he or she completes a mile; the goal is to reach 50 miles, at which time the student will receive a t-shirt commemorating the achievement (smaller prizes are given for reaching lesser milestones as well).

Open gym: Students can come use LP-A's gymnasium space every day before school.

Active Classrooms: Some teachers have incorporated "brain breaks" into their daily curriculum, giving students chances to get up and engage in some sort of physical exercise in between periods of study. Wixo noted that while LP-A received a little financial assistance toward achieving this goal, in the form of a $10,000 Active Schools Pilot Program grant that was awarded to the school three years ago, it wouldn't have happened without the support of staff, administration, parents, and students.

"It's the whole school that has to support being active," she said.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

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