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A lot of attention is, understandably, being put on the gaps in the type of education children are getting during the pandemic. One part of learning that’s being somewhat overlooked – especially given a lot of students are doing their classwork sitting in front of a computer, is physical education. It’s well known the benefits of physical education, according to Jon Bealer, the middle school administrator for the Lincolnton campus.

“We can’t have any student life events this year because of COVID,” Bealer said. “When all of our students were online, we felt disconnected from them and they felt disconnected from the school. We wanted to do something that could be done wherever you’re at. A lot of our staff have been participating in virtual 5K and things like that and it was like a bond for them.”

Bealer and other middle school teachers at the Lincolnton campus started to look at different things they could do with students.

“I like hiking and I’ve known about the Mountains to Sea Trail for a while now,” Bealer said. “It’s a North Carolina specific hike so we thought it’d be a good chance for our students to learn more about North Carolina as well. It’s a longer trail, not quite as long as the Appalachian Trail, just shy of 1,200 miles.”

Middle school students who attend the Lincolnton campus are logging miles from wherever they’re at and adding them up by homerooms. Where each homeroom is at in total miles is kept track of on a map that’s hung in the main middle school hallway. Miles can be accumulated via walking, running or biking. They can even do other activities like dancing or yoga. For example, 30 minutes of dancing can be translated into a mile. It’s all logged online via a Google form.

One of the overachievers, Axel Beatenhead, who was very active before this challenge was began, has logged in almost 125 miles. The middle school student participates in almost every sport, except soccer. Some if it through school and some through optimist.

“The challenge is sort of hard – it’s a thousand something miles,” he said. “My homeroom’s losing by about 200 miles. I’ve been telling my group to do whatever they can to log miles. We need to get more miles.” 

Another student, Gabriel Mosteller is attending school completely remotely. He said that this challenge has given him an outlet for his energy. Unlike many students, Mosteller’s grades have improved since he’s gone to remote learning.

“It helps me stay active,” he said. “For fun I do jumping jacks to burn energy and now I can use it for school. It helps keep me connected to my classmates too.”

Both Kendall Dowdy and John Cox are enjoying the challenge and say that it’s helping them be more active. Cox is an athlete like Beatenhead so he’s easily logging in miles.

“It’s a good way to get people active,” Dowdy said. “While we were in quarantine, we didn’t do a whole lot. I’m getting miles in playing with my sister’s new puppy.”

There will be a prize for the winning homeroom.

When this interview was conducted, Lincoln Charter School middle school students were attending via a hybrid learning model, with some completely remote. Since Monday, they’ve all returned to completely remote learning.

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