Gift from CA puts pupils on path to fitness


October 30, 2002|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HARPER'S CHOICE Middle School pupils have new tools to help them on the road to physical fitness, thanks to a generous gift from the Columbia Association.

In a ceremony last week, association President Maggie J. Brown and Leah Kleinberg, manager of Columbia Athletic Club, presented the school with nine pieces of strength and fitness equipment.

Harper's Choice Middle School's principal, Stephen Wallis, said he was "absolutely delighted" with the gift, which included stationary bicycles, and leg-extension, overhead-press and rowing machines made specifically for adolescents.

"We know that Americans generally are out of shape if not obese," Wallis said. "We would hope that our program here and the equipment will generate interest with the students to begin a lifetime of activity."

The machines will be integrated into the curriculum taught by physical education teachers Sandie Ingles, George Harcarik and Robert Morse, and may be used in the future during after-school programs. Ingles said the equipment will benefit pupils physically as well as help them develop a healthy body image while exposing them to strength training they will need to participate in high school sports.

"One of the nice things about this donation is that the machines are kid-sized," Ingles said.

Kleinberg said she was motivated to donate the equipment, which was under-used at the gym, to Harper's Choice Middle because of the school's proximity to the gym. She also said that she knew Wallis valued physical fitness as well as academic skills in his pupils.

Last year - his first as principal at the school - Wallis came to school one Sunday morning and noticed a couple of pupils sitting outside. He encouraged them to round up a few more kids, and they played football. Wallis said that on succeeding weekends, he would be working in his office and hear students tapping on his window, luring him out to play.

"We started out with about five guys. It turns out that those five are now up to about 16 kids," Wallis said. "We play tackle football and they do calisthenics with me. In order to go to McDonald's, where I treat them to burgers and cokes, they have to run with me. So we run throughout the community and up to McDonald's."

Eighth-graders Tiffany Brown, Patrick Graziano and A.J. Turner were among the first to use the new equipment after last week's presentation. They said that they were grateful for the fitness machines.

"I think it's real nice to have the Columbia Association to give us all this gym stuff because we really need this," Tiffany said.

Kleinberg said she would like to explore other opportunities to work with the children at Harper's Choice Middle School.

"We're always looking for ways to get kids off the couch and physically active," she said.

Rouse scholars

Howard Community College enrolled its 10th class of Rouse Scholars this fall. Thirty students from 12 high schools are participating in the program, named after Columbia's founder, James W. Rouse.

Rouse Scholars - an honors program designed for transfer to four-year colleges at the end of a student's sophomore year - combines projects with mentors and leadership training and cultural and recreational activities with academic education. Students are chosen for participation in the program by test scores, high school grades, course selection, extracurricular activities, essays and recommendations.

These students from west Columbia high schools are part of this year's class of Rouse Scholars: Andrew Breen, Timothy Coleman, Kevin Drum, Jonathan Ducharme, Rebecca Fansler, Kurt Koller, Christen Pena-Ariet and Brandon Servary.

Wilde jazz

The Wilde Lake Community Association will present "A Night of Wilde Jazz" with The Army Blues Jazz Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The event is free.

Information: 410-730-3987.

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