Students at Fletcher Walker Elementary walk laps on the track during recess to win prizes. The program is titled Westwood Boltz and is one of many activity options this school year. Photo by Susan Cort Johnson

Westwood Boltz a popular recess activity

The track on the combined campus of the Westwood Unified elementary and junior/senior high school has been put to good use this school year with the implementation of a new program called Westwood Boltz. Students in kindergarten through eighth-grade are walking and running around the track to win prizes. Once 20 laps (5 miles) around the track is completed, students receive a collapsible water bottle; at 60 laps (15 miles) they get to choose a sports ball; at the completion of 100 laps (25 miles) the prize is a watch or fitness tracker.

The flyer for this “recess option” reads: “Pins earned every 10 miles, more prizes for every 5 mile goal after 25 miles. Completed punch cards will be placed in an end of year drawing. The person with the most miles at the end of the year will win a grand prize.”

Eileen Heisig, the fourth/fifth-grade teacher at Fletcher Walker Elementary, said she mentioned that a lot of the Westwood students were great runners, so Michael Altenburg, the principal/superintendent, asked her to start a running activity during recess. She works with Sara Micone, the library technician, to track laps for elementary students during their morning recess and during the lunch break for the fourth/fifth-grade students and those in junior high. Each participant has a card with rows of numbers, which is kept in a file box and punched at the completion of each lap.

About 75 students in kindergarten through eighth-grade participate on a regular basis, according to Micone. A few freshmen asked to be involved and were given permission.

“The first day we had kindergartner William LePage run a complete mile and won the first lanyard. It has been consistently popular and we have needed to order more lanyards,” said Heisig. (After finishing four laps students receive a Westwood Boltz lanyard.)

While Westwood Boltz helps students get physically fit, it has many other benefits. Altenburg said the club provides incentive to come to school. According to Micone the activity helps alleviate congestion on the playground for elementary students and is an incentive for positive behavior. Heisig said the older children often have trouble finding something to do during recess and the club provides an organized activity.

Heisig and Micone are currently working on some indoor activities that will replace the track this winter when cold, stormy weather prohibits its use. But for now, music is played to provide incentive for exercise and the students are completing laps.

Money from the Comprehensive Support and Improvement funds the district received under the Every Student Succeeds Act in the amount of $166,000 is being used to cover the cost of Westwood Boltz. The Title 1 funds were given to Westwood to improve their attendance rates, an area in which the elementary school was under-

performing, according to Trena Smith, the administrative assistant.