MONTROSE - Friday morning, Centennial Middle School students practiced making as much noise as possible in the school gym as they waited to cut the ribbon for the school’s brand new, $100,000 DON’T QUIT Fitness Center, attempting to outshout each other by grade level and even doing “the wave.”
Because a brand new DON’T QUIT fitness center is something worth shouting about!
“I am so proud of Joe Simo,” said Phoebe Benziger of the Montrose County School District RERJ board of directors. “He’s a rock star. I am so proud he had the initiative to apply for this.
“One person can make a difference,” she said.
Centennial was one of only three Colorado schools selected as a DON’T QUIT! Fitness Champion earlier this year (495 schools were eligible) for demonstrating new and innovative ways of promoting student physical activity and wellness. The other two winning schools were Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy in Colorado Springs and Everitt Middle School in Wheat Ridge
On Friday, Centennial held an assembly to celebrate the opening of the new fitness center, with speaker Jake Steinfeld, Chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils, around 620 excited middle school students, plenty of local dignitaries, school district officials, teachers and staff.
Speaker Steinfeld told students about his own transformation at age 13. “I was a very overweight kid…my dad bought me a set of weights,” he said. “That changed my life, and built confidence and selfesteem.” Centennial has become a place where students and community can recreate both during after school, thanks to the track, brand new playground equipment, a new GaGa Ballpit created by local Boy Scout Brooks Blackford of Troop 491, and now the new weight room/fitness center.
Centennial Principal Joe Simo, who has lost 110 lbs over the past year through simple lifestyle changes, said that having new playground equipment at Centennial has been exciting for students and for staff, and the new fitness center brings expanded opportunities.
“The kids are loving it,” Simo said. “There are no discipline issues during recess because the kids are busy, they are engaged, and they are having a great time.
“And to be chosen to receive a governor’s DON’T QUIT Fitness room is an honor. The equipment is amazing; the resources are designed for the weight room based on the space.”
Physical education teachers have been trained on the new equipment as well, Simo said. Community members have expressed appreciation for the recreational amenities at Centennial, and RE1J Director of Property Services Philip Bailey noted that playgrounds and recreational facilities are important throughout the districtboth during and after school hours. “Johnson Elementary has a new playground too; it’s also getting a lot of use.” Facilities are unlocked after school hours for community members to share and enjoy. According to a news release issued by the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils, Physical activity and exercise have been shown to help prevent and treat more than 40 chronic diseases, enhance individual health and quality of life and reduce health care costs.
In schools, physical activity and exercise have been shown to improve academic achievement, increase confidence and selfesteem, reduce discipline problems, cut absenteeism and foster better interpersonal relationships.