NEWPORT CITY – On Friday, the sounds of cheers and laughter rose from the North Country Union High School gymnasium and field as dozens of students from all of the sending schools cheered each other on during the 16th annual Fitness Day.
Fitness Day provides an opportunity for some fifth through eighth grade students to spend the day at North Country and participate in fitness activities and games.
Organizers originally wanted to model North Country’s Fitness Day after the one held at the University of Vermont where the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge is given. They decided to expand the day and demonstrate the different programs offered by the school. Opening ceremonies included the JROTC students posting the colors and the Men’s Ensemble performing the National Anthem.
North Country’s Fitness Day provided a learning experience for future physical education (PE) teachers who are attending Lyndon State College (LSC). The LSC students administered the fitness tests to the elementary school students.
“It’s a fantastic experience for these young PE teachers to not only mix with professionals but also mix with kids at an event like this,” said LSC Professor Geoff Davison. He said the United States has a serious health problem with people being obese and its associated diseases. “We in physical education are really the first people to get hold of children in terms of trying to focus them on healthy activities and a healthy life style.”
Organizers had a more ulterior motive than bringing the youngsters in for Fitness Day.
“What Fitness Day is also about is having students come here from these small schools and visit their future high school,” explained Fitness Day director Trish Buttice. A handful of high school students, called student hosts, helped Buttice promote the school. “What’s really nice is the students who are the hosts are the ambassadors for the school.”
Fitness Day also included two student directors, Alex Sicotte and Steven Raboin, who helped oversee everything. Sicotte said he enjoys seeing the elementary school students enjoying themselves at North Country. Sicotte said that he attended Fitness Day as a seventh grade student.
“It was great,” he said. “I met a lot of people and when I got here I already knew them and felt more comfortable.”
“They need to realize it’s not just a one day thing; it’s a whole year round thing,” added Raboin.
Buttice hopes that every student from the sending schools will be able to attend at least one Fitness Day during their elementary school career. This year participating students received wristbands. The high school students received blue ones and the students from the sending schools received red ones.
“It’s just a wonderful day,” said Buttice. She hopes the message the younger students take is that “North Country is a great school has many different programs.”
This was Buttice’s last Fitness Day. She is leaving the physical education department to teach driver's education. She promises the other school staff will make sure it continues and she will always be available to help.