Originally published May 7, 2012
Sope Creek Elementary School students had the opportunity to share their early morning fitness initiative, dubbed the Sunrise Program, with First Lady Sandra Deal and others during an April 12 visit.
Deal, along with Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, Rep. Sharon Cooper and Cobb County Schools Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, witnessed students running, playing games, dancing and jumping to music for 20 minutes as they kick-started their day of learning with a daily high cardio fitness routine.
The program is of interest because the school has been tracking students' test scores and sees a correlation between the physical fitness of a student and improved test scores. Principal Martha Whalen and lead physical education teacher Shawn Maloney have teamed up with staff and teachers to make this exercise-driven start a daily routine for as many students as possible.
"This program takes just 15 minutes a day and doesn't require any extra funds," said Whalen. "It's simple and it works - and we see it's making our students academically successful."
"I love to see the children so engaged in the morning and I am impressed with how this exercise gets them going and ready to learn," Deal said.
Deal, a former teacher, also read to some of the classes and enjoyed hearing the children speak on what they aspire to be.
The day was capped off with a Q&A about the fitness program by staff and discussion of the links between increased test scores, academic abilities and cardiovascular fitness.