Caroline Didas’ 7-year-old daughter came home from school one day complaining that her stomach hurt.
But it wasn’t from something she ate.
Didas’ daughter, Jessica Starwarld, was just a little sore from doing sit-ups in gym class.
Jessica and her brother Sean, 11, were part of a group of students at Catherine McAuley School in Greece who powered their school to a top finish among the state’s small schools in the annual Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge. This was the 11th year that the school has won the first-place recognition.
The percentage of students in the school who qualified for the physical-fitness award was so high that the school even ranked fifth in the nation, physical-education teachers said. Last school year at Catherine McAuley, 69.07 percent of students won the presidential fitness awards by scoring at or above the 85th percentile for their ages.
The physical-fitness challenge features timed trials of exercises, including doing as many sit-ups in a minute as possible, and doing pull-ups, push-ups, a one-mile run, a shuttle run and a flexibility test. To run a mile, the students had to make 27 laps around their school’s gym, said physical-education teacher Doug Schneider.
In December the students’ accomplishments were recognized with a visit from Rochester Rhinos players Matthew Delic√¢te and goalkeeper Scott Vallow, who congratulated the students, did a quick soccer demonstration and signed autographs. Each student also received a Rhinos patch and a pencil.
“Growing up healthy is important, and you are well on your way, so keep up the good work,” Vallow said.
“Make sure you keep exercising to stay healthy, and you will be rewarded,” Delic√¢te added.
During the presentation, students also received accolades from state Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, who congratulated them on staying fit.
“Physical fitness is a beneficial and an important component to your health,” Robach said.
Schneider said he gives the physical-fitness test twice a year, in the fall and in the spring.
“My goal is that they do improve, whether it’s one extra sit-up or pull-up,” Schneider said.
The mile run was most challenging for 10-year-old Ben Bell, a fifth-grader.
“I did work up to that,” Ben said. “I did some jogging, some running and some walking.”
Stephanie Kusse said her daughter, Corey, also is active out of school; she is a dancer and soccer player. However, Corey worked hard to complete the challenge, her mother noted.
“It was pretty easy, as long as you work really hard and try to meet your goal,” said Corey, a sixth-grader.