Students watch their waistline during Thanksgiving meal

By Bob Robinson

Star Staff

   While most people will probably eat too much this Thanksgiving, students at T.A. Dugger Junior High School (TAD) will be counting calories and exercising, thanks to the President's Challenge on Physical Fitness.
   The 189 students who are in the 7th-grade at TAD are participating in the 24-week physical fitness program sponsored by the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
   This spring, 174 students in the 6th-grade are scheduled to participate in the physical fitness program for 12 weeks.
   "The program teaches good nutrition and physical fitness through strength, flexibility and endurance exercises," said Jonell Johnson, who, along with Amie Williams, coordinate the President's Challenge as well as teach physical education at TAD.
   Thus far, 13 TAD students are scheduled to receive the National Physical Fitness Award. The award is presented to students who score above the 50th percentile in the shuttle run, curl-ups, v-sit reach, endurance one-mile run and chin-ups.
   The students are Danielle Brown, Ricky Christian, Casey Crockett, Mary Edgar, Jessica Eller, Jeremiah Gale, Chris Hubbard, Katrina Moore, Mikael Oliver, Katie Rednour, Ashley Stover, Elisha Swink and Seth Wallingford.
   "We are proud of the students and their accomplishments. Our goal is to have students meet requirements to receive the Presidential Physical Fitness Award reserved for those who score in the 85th percentile in all five categories," Ms. Johnson said.
   Physical fitness tests are administered four times during the course -- when it begins, after 12 weeks and at the end of 24 weeks, according to Ms. Johnson.
   Next spring, the President's Challenge will be offered in all elementary schools in the Elizabethton City School System, according to Rondald Taylor, assistant director of schools.
   The President's Challenge will be coordinated by physical education instructors Joyce Sweeney at West Side, Gerald Jenkins at East Side, and Leslie Hannekein at Harold McCormick.
   It is not the first time students in the Elizabethton School System have served as physical education role models.
   Several years ago, "Physical Best," a physical fitness program, was launched at Harold McCormick Elementary School, a demonstration center designated by the Tennessee Department of Education.
   Judy Richardson, physical education instructor at Harold McCormick for 26 years before she retired, said physical education is just as important as academics.
   "If the body is not in good shape, the mind is not in good shape. Physical education is very important. Physical, mental and social skills complement each other for a well-rounded education," Richardson said.
   Jonell Johnson and Amie Williams agree. Jonell, who received the Presidential Physical Fitness Award in 1985 while she was a student, hopes students at TAD will continue in her footsteps.