Students at Shiloh Point Elementary in south Forsyth may be the Sharks, but on Tuesday they transformed into Falcons.
The school received a visit from Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson, mascot Freddie Falcon and several cheerleaders, who brought with them an early Christmas gift for the school’s physical education programs — a $10,000 grant.
Shiloh Point earned the honors after being named an NFL Play 60 Super School. The campaign encourages schools to promote at least 60 minutes of active play every day.
Through the program, which was offered in conjunction with Comcast, 34 schools from across the country were chosen based on their successful health and fitness education endeavors.
Cate Hernandez, one of the school’s physical education instructors, applied online for the honor.
“I had to write three essays — one about what we’ve done about health and wellness, what we plan to do to continue to encourage healthy habits for our students, and then also how we celebrate the Falcons,” she said.
She said efforts such as the school’s 100 Mile Club, which encourages students run at least 100 miles outside of school each year, likely led to the honor.
“We have that club in place and we have so many students participating,” said Hernandez, noting it has about 500 members. “I think that impressed the Falcons.”
In order for all the school’s students to have a chance to take part in the special visit, kindergarten and first-graders lined the campus walkway with red, black and white pompoms and signs. They cheered as Jackson and the other Falcons representatives made their way into the school.
Students in third through fifth grades got to take part in a pep rally of sorts, where Jackson spoke to them about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“I try to eat three meals a day … with protein, fruit and vegetables,” he told the children. “The idea is to have your plate as colorful as possible because you want to make sure you give your body all the nutrients that it needs.”
He said two of his favorite breakfast foods are blueberries and strawberries.
“So the next time you guys have those fruits in the morning, you can rest assured that I’m having those fruits right along with you,” Jackson said.
He also told the kids to get plenty of exercise.
“I tend to play a game called football,” he said. “… But if you can’t play football, I encourage you to go outside and run around, ride a bike, do jumping jacks, jump rope.
“Most of all, I encourage all of you to continue in the lifestyle you’re living. Continue to eat healthy, continue to study your lessons, listen to your teachers and family members and, most importantly, be active for at least 60 minutes every day and if you can do more than 60 minutes, that’s even better.”
Sixty students were also chosen to take part in an “ultimate football workout” with Jackson and other Falcons representatives following the pep rally.
Hernandez said fifth-graders in the 100 Mile Club who have completed at least 25 miles this school year were selected, along with the school’s student wellness team leaders in grades third through fifth.
“They wanted 60 kids for this part and it worked out beautifully because that was exactly how many we had,” she said.
Principal Rebecca Johnson said the $10,000 grant will go toward the construction of a walking track at the school to continue its efforts of encouraging students to lead healthy lives.
“It’s a great day at Shiloh Point,” she said. “I have the deepest appreciation to the NFL, the Falcons and Comcast because due to their generosity we’re going to continue efforts to help [our students] be healthy.”
She added that while the day’s special guests were a treat, the event was mostly about recognizing the Shiloh Point student body for its healthy habits.
“Today we’re celebrating the children. It’s great to have these celebrities with us, but the day is really about the students and their accomplishments and the adults they’re going to grow into. I really think we’ve put them on the right path.”