Athletic fun breeds academic success

FRESNO, Calif.

Play is perhaps the most important aspect of a young child's life.

In the early years children learn to move and move to learn, helping them develop their self-esteem and their personal identity. Which is why teachers at Temperance Kutner Elementary School came up with the concept to hold the campus's first annual track and field event.

Temperance Kutner Elementary Principal Randy Hein said, "Our fitness scores last year were not as good as we thought they should be so we were thinking exercise is fun, competing is fun."

So the students sprinted, jumped, and leaped to new heights. The participated in events like the 75 meter run, low hurdles, and the high jump. As well as teaming up with students and staff at Clovis East High School and the district's special education program to celebrate their successes.

Clovis East Student Maddy Vue added, "We just want kids to be involved in having a lot of school spirit and having a great start to the year and thinking back to the first week and think this is so fun."

The idea is to build kids' confidence and improve their physical fitness. And school leaders tell us they're already making big strides.

"It was amazing to see the kids that qualified," said Temperance Kutner teacher Kathy O'Neil. "Ones that don't always get accolades in the classroom. Mmmhmm, but out here they're shining bright and that's what motivated us to do this."

Those who placed were given medals and ribbons. While the top three finishers stood on Olympic-like blocks and posed for pictures.

"We all have talents," said Hein. "We all have something to contribute and really celebrate who we are differently."

Some students even shocked themselves with how well they performed.

6th Grader Rafael Mendoza said, "At first I thought I wasn't going to make it in long jump, but today I found out I did."

Teaching them the value of hard work and practice, and providing them with opportunities to feel confident about their abilities.

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