MARTHA K. SEAGLE
The excitement inside the East Lincoln High School gym rivaled that of Bank of America Stadium Tuesday morning as students joined Panthers wide receiver Armanti Edwards for a school wide pep rally to celebrate winning the â€œFuel Up Like a Proâ€ contest for Lincoln County Schools.
As reported in earlier editions of the Times-News, the contest challenges students to increase milk consumption and daily physical activity. The contest is jointly sponsored by the National Dairy Association and the National Football League, with support from the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Staff members from the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association (SUDIA) partnered with the local school district to promote the competition.
The program encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods such as low-fat and fat free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Additionally, students are encouraged to achieve 60 minutes of physical activity every day. By making changes in the school environment, students are more likely to meet government recommendations for daily physical activity and eat the appropriate number of servings from the food groups they need most to be healthy.
Byron Sackett, Director of Child Nutrition for Lincoln County Schools, spearheads and organizes the event for the local school system.
â€œThe whole emphasis is getting kids to eat nutritious foods instead of unhealthy junk food,â€ Sackett said. â€œItâ€™s about keeping the kids healthy.â€
Information supplied by SUDIA states that todayâ€™s children could become the first ever American generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents due to obesity and lack of physical activity.Â If these issues are not addressed, they can lead to Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a host of other chronic health problems. The goal of the competition is to change behaviors and reverse the trend toward increased weight and sedentary lifestyles among Americaâ€™s youth.
East Lincoln High School took the challenge seriously, increasing their milk consumption by 45% during the month of October.
â€œPrincipal (Tim) Woody personally stood at the entrance to the cafeteria each day and reminded students to choose milk,â€ Sackett said.
For their win, the school received a $1,500 grant during Tuesdayâ€™s pep rally. Additionally, four representatives of the school â€“ Principal Woody, teacher Darrell White, student Joe Burmea and Child Nutrition staff member Lisa Bailey — were treated to a Carolina Panthers game in October, including field passes and VIP luncheon.
Childers Elementary School was runner-up in the contest and Pumpkin Center placed third. For their efforts, they received $1,000 and $500 grants, respectively. Those schools were not left out in Tuesdayâ€™s events, as 150 students from each school were bused to East Lincoln for the exciting pep rally with Sir Purr, Edwards and Carolina Top Cats.
Joshua Stover of G. E. Massey Elementary was the winner of the â€œat largeâ€ seat for the festivities. His name was drawn at random from students in other participating schools.
â€œMy favorite part was going to the game and getting to eat the hot dogs,â€ Stover said of his experience.
Inside the packed gym, teams representing East Lincoln, Pumpkin Center and Kiser competed for Panthers gear and prizes in a quiz game that required knowledge of nutrition and exercise along with physical competitions. The elementary school physical education teachers beat out the high school teachers in an obstacle course contest while carrying giant milk bottles. Students representing Kiser and Pumpkin Center also ruled supreme on the obstacle course.
As the pep rally drew to a close, principals from the three schools ceremoniously kissed a local dairy calf before sending students back to class.