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Sierra Vista teacher earns governor's gold medal for P.E.

Posted: September 18, 2009 3:30 p.m.
Updated: September 18, 2009 4:20 p.m.
 
George Velarde, head of the Physical Education Department at Sierra Vista Junior High School, has been awarded a Gold Medal by the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness in a Sports Spotlight Award ceremony in Sacramento this week.

As a Gold Medalist, Velarde will receive $10,000 for his school's P.E. program.

Gold Medal winners were announced by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Council Chairman Jake Steinfeld at an awards ceremony at the Capitol Area East End Complex Auditorium in Sacramento.

The Spotlight Awards recognize the efforts of principals, teachers, non-profit organizations, events, park programs, parent associations and schools that positively impact the physical activity, fitness levels and wellbeing of California children.

The grand prize winning schools and gold medalists were selected from more than 700 nominees based on their use of innovation, inspiration and initiative.

The Governor's Council Web site has a glowing description of Gold Medalist Velarde and his local program with its focus on developing the fitness of its students rather than on sports activities.

The post describes Sierra Vista's Fitness Center and the three years Velarde spent promoting the program, seeking funding and building an exciting array of equipment that challenges students to develop their fitness level.

Each P.E. teacher at the school also has received a class set of heart rate monitors and pedometers which they use to collect information on students' personal fitness.

The program has had a remarkable effect on student fitness. Over the past five years, the percentage of Sierra Vista students scoring in the Healthy Fitness Zone on the State Physical Fitness Test has increased significantly and is now the highest in the Hart District and one of the highest in the state.

"I congratulate all of this year's Gold Medal winners of my Fitness Challenge," Governor Schwarzenegger said. "This year participation doubled with a record 339,000 students, teachers and parents who took my Fitness Challenge, and I'm proud of each and every one of them for their fantastic efforts. It's Californians like them who will help make us the strongest and healthiest state in the country."

The Sports Spotlight Awards are presented by the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation. Three schools from across the state were named grand prize winners in addition to the nine categories of Gold Medalists.

Eleven districts also received recognition as School Districts of the Year. Velarde won the highest recognition possible in the Teacher of the Year category.

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