By Betty Gandee
This January, students at Big Otter Elementary set out on what would be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The kids started to participate in a fitness and nutrition program, and stayed after school a few days each week to work on the fitness portion with their P.E teacher, DeeDee Kleman. They would study nutrition facts at home on their own time, all while juggling their demanding schedules. Several of these students also participate in extra-curricular activities such as dance, soccer, baseball, and wrestling. With practices and school, making time for this extra activity was a challenge, but it was a challenge every participant put 110 percent of their heart into.
The students traveled to Charleston to compete in the Operation Tone Up Fittest School Challenge in March, and came out with a second and third place win. Scoring that second place spot allowed the Big Otter Braves to travel to Hermosa Beach, California this May to compete against schools from all over the United States.
Arriving in California via airplane was an exciting adventure in itself for these students. They participated in various fitness activities throughout the course of three days. These children and school staff member Sissy Barker pushed themselves hard, and the work they put in paid off.
The Big Otter Braves proudly came home to West Virginia with the runner up spot after earning a total of 221 points at the challenge. The points were determined through a combination of nutrition knowledge and physical activity. Each student showed true West Virginia pride and grace while representing the state and Clay County proudly. Congratulations Big Otter Braves!
A special thank you to all the sponsors who made this possible for Big Otter, including the Clay County Board of Education, Pierson’s Lumber, Gould’s Electric, Dow Jones, Maysel Community Church, Mining Motors, Bowen Dental, Amron Truss, Black Walnut Farm in Maine, Senator Mike Romano, American National , Clay County Bank, Pizzas and Cream, John G. Hubbard DDS. PLLC, Big Otter Fire Dept., Teddy Dawson, Fran King, J.G Bradley Campground, Cunningham Motors, Clay Auto Parts, EZ Transport LLC, and Sugar Bottom Farm.