Get physical!

Published 10:52 pm Friday, January 8, 2010

Thanks to a local foundation, the students at Oakland Elementary are learning that exercise can be fun.

Suffolk schools recently received nearly $10,000 in institutional grants from the Suffolk Education Foundation. Part of the money went to buy the students at Oakland a Dance-Dance Revolution School Kit.

Dance-Dance Revolution is an interactive game that promotes physical activity through structured dance moves on a lighted mat or pedestal.

“Our goal was to select those applications that stood out from the rest,” said Linda Taylor, president of Foundation. “We looked for creative ideas and programs that would address our standards of learning requirements but also make learning fun, and where our dollars would impact the largest number of students.“

In addition to the Dance-Dance Revolution School Kit, the money will go towards funding several programs, including the robotics team at Nansemond River High School, math-with-games lessons at Mount Zion Elementary School and the drama club at John F. Kennedy Middle School.

“The students have really enjoyed dancing in the gym,” said Anne McCoy, a teacher at Oakland. “Teachers have also been involved and excited to try out their best moves on this new equipment.”

In addition to the fun, the game also promotes aerobic and cardiovascular fitness — the perfect combination.

The Foundation strives to strengthen teachers through staff development, to improve students’ access to computers and other classroom technology and to assist both teachers and students in furthering their education, said Bethanne Bradshaw, who serves as its vice president.

Since the SEF was established in 1993, it has granted more than $375,000 for Suffolk public schools. Nearly $200,000 has gone to college scholarships. The remaining $175,000 went towards instructional grants, student tuition assistance for dual-credit courses to allow students to earn both high school and community college credits and employee recognition programs.

“We all know money is tight, and budgets are constantly being cut, resulting in teachers spending their own money for classroom materials,” Taylor said. “Grant funding is very important. We care and we want to help.”