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Metuchen schools encouraging students to pursue healthy lifestyle

By KATHY CHANG
Staff Writer

METUCHEN — The move to promote a healthy lifestyle and highlight the anti-idling campaign this year was a success.

Schools Superintendent Vincent Caputo said at a board meeting in July that assessing the district goals for the 2015-16 school year included a focus on the whole child.

“There were fewer and focused goals, emphasis on measurement, especially emphasized staff development during school day activities,” he said, adding that school officials received input from the Board of Education, teachers, faculty and staff.

The five tenets the district highlighted were health, safety, engagement, support and challenges.

With health, school officials wanted to make sure each student entered school healthy and learned and practiced a healthy lifestyle.

“Our school physical education schedule, curriculum and instruction support and reinforce the health and well-being of each student by addressing lifetime fitness knowledge and skills,” said Caputo.

He said students had the ability to self-regulate their progress with information they provided on cards in the beginning, middle and end of the year.

Also there were 11 walk-throughs by school administration with 14 different teachers at the four schools in the district — Metuchen High School, Edgar Middle School, Campbell Elementary School and Moss School — encompassing 3,284 students during physical education classes.

“There was 97 percent engagement, which I was very happy to see,” said Caputo, who said that is their ultimate goal for student engagement. “Physical education is all about lifelong fitness and wellness, and to see that we have so many students engaged, I felt really solid about that measurement.”

The school district partnered with the borough on the district’s anti-idling campaign.

“At the very heart of [this goal was] to make school buildings safer for students, teachers, parents, custodians [and more],” said Caputo.

He said idling a vehicle is against the law in the borough and to help with the awareness effort, the district put out signs, performed outreach with the community through parent teacher organizations, flyers, the school’s website, newsletters, social media and in the classroom, and collected data [percentage of vehicles in compliance with the anti-idling law on school property].

Excessive idling, according to a fact sheet from the state Department of Environmental Protection, causes an unnecessary release of air contaminants into the air, including fine particulates and air toxins. New Jersey has laws which prohibit idling of a vehicle for more than three minutes with certain exceptions.

At Metuchen High School, Caputo said athletic and regular buses were found to be 100 percent compliant; at Edgar Middle School, there was 100 percent bus compliance and up to 70 percent car compliance; at Campbell Elementary school, there was 82 percent bus compliance and 100 percent car compliance; and at Moss School, there was 77 percent compliance.

The district also promoted Walking Wednesdays, encouraging students to walk to school.

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