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May 17, 2013

Rockin’ Recess: Laurel youngsters earn a morning of music, health education

NEW CASTLE — Hands clapping. Arms waving. Crowd chanting.

That was the scene at Laurel Elementary School yesterday morning.

Laurel beat out four other school districts in the UPMC For Kids and Radio Disney-sponsored “Attendance Counts” competition. The elementary school averaged a 95.3 percent attendance rate in March, claiming the top prize of a Radio Disney assembly. The event featured kids participating in a health-and-wellness quiz show.

The school entered the competition after Radio Disney reached out to nurse Debbie Garrett in February.

Though the competition only required schools to keep track of their attendance rate, Garrett added an educational spin to Laurel’s participation.

“Since it was health related, we decided to do little health informationals every day in the month of March that we were collecting attendance,” Garrett said. “So, I looked up a lot of information, and it just happened that the first week in March was National School Breakfast week, so we did everything about food and nutrition.

“Then we did adequate sleep and rest and when it’s time to get off your electronic toys. We did physical activity and participating in gym class, outside activities and soccer and what-not.”

This information undoubtedly helped the kids prepare for yesterday’s quiz show.

Featuring questions like “How many servings of fruit should you eat a day?” and “What does protein do for your body?”, the show was crafted by Radio Disney and UPMC.

“We actually partnered with CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program),” Radio Disney promotions manager Dorothea Rueger said, “and they helped us create questions to use (about) health and wellness, different things like that, so the kids learn about that while they are playing our game show.

“We come to the school and the kids are always just so excited, screaming and yelling. It’s nice, because they get a break from school. The assembly is what we call “edutainment,” so they’re learning, but having fun. They don’t even realize they’re learning, so the kids always really enjoy it. We get everyone involved; it’s really fun.”

Excitement was one thing the kids weren’t short on.

Garrett said when the Disney van pulled in next to a school bus, kids on board were knocking on the windows, waving, and jumping into the aisles.

As they made their way into the school gymnasium, kids danced along to the music playing and chatted excitedly. When it came time to select the first four contestants to participate in round one of the game show, hundreds of hands shot up in the air.

To qualify, kids had to correctly answer a Disney-related trivia question. After doing so, they were invited down to Radio Disney’s buzzer panel to participate in the health quiz show.

After four qualifier rounds (and a hula hoop competition as well as a healthy food identification contest) the winners of each were brought back for the champion round.

But before the winners did their thing, the Radio Disney representatives invited the whole crowd to stand up and dance in a game called “Match My Moves.” Teachers and students got their groove on, smiling while following the leaders’ movements.

Then fifth-grader Saber Wadding and  fourth-graders Irie Whisel, Lexie Elliot and Zach Maine began the championship round.

Maine took a strong lead after the first few questions, but Whisel was able to clinch the victory in the end, taking the top prize.

“It felt really great. I’m still trembling!” Whisel said of her victory.

Maine said he felt, “a little bit worried, but it was fun.” He added, jokingly, “I would’ve had it if she didn’t get that Veggie Burger question.”

At the end of the assembly, every face wore a smile.

“Really, you know, working for Radio Disney is wonderful, because we’re bringing that Disney experience to the people of the Greater Pittsburgh Area,” Reuger said. “Some kids don’t get to go to Walt Disney World so we’re bringing that experience to the kids here.”

 

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