School Notes: Kensington School Wins New Fitness Center, Visit from ‘Body By Jake’ Guru

Plus: New app available for school news; public invited to weigh in on universal pre-kindergarten


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Newport Mill Middle School students and teachers are looking forward to getting a new fitness center, complete with a visit from the man behind “Body by Jake.”

The Kensington school was one of three in Maryland to land a $100,000 workout center through the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils, which is chaired by Jake “Body by Jake” Steinfeld. The school’s principal expects the equipment to arrive shortly after classes begin in September.

“With this fitness center, the impact will be immediate, and it will last for a very long time,” said the school’s physical education director, Matthew Slatkin.

School staff and students in May applied for the award by writing an essay and filming a video that described why they could use the new workout center.

The school’s principal, Panagiota Tsonis, said the school’s current fitness center is outdated. Slatkin said only 10 pieces of equipment are working and students quickly tire of the limited options in the weight room.

Slatkin said the new center will have at least 33 pieces of equipment, including about 10 for cardio workouts and others for strength training and flexibility exercises. There won’t be any free weights, which aren’t recommended for use until students reach high school-age, he added.

Gov. Larry Hogan picked Newport Mill Middle, Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi and Vanguard Collegiate Middle School in Baltimore as Maryland’s fitness center winners.

“These schools have each demonstrated fitness excellence and will now benefit from state-of-the-art fitness centers that both the students and community can utilize to incorporate fitness and wellness into their daily lives,” Hogan said in an Aug. 2 news release.

Steinfeld’s health campaign through the Fitness Councils uses partnerships with companies to pay for the workout centers, according to the release.

Tsonis said Steinfeld will drop by the school to train staff on the new equipment and will return for a pep rally and ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 9.

MCPS advertises new app for getting school news

Montgomery County Public Schools is encouraging parents to download the school system’s new phone app before classes begin Sept. 5.

The app lets users get MCPS news, access the district’s tip line and directory, and receive notifications from schools. MCPS wrote in a tweet that the applications are available for iPhone and Android devices. 

Forum planned for discussion of universal pre-kindergarten

County Council member Craig Rice and MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith are hosting an Aug. 23 community forum on universal pre-kindergarten.

The officials want to gather input about early childhood education and what community members think of expanding it to all preschool children, according to a news release. The meeting will start 6:30 p.m. at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.

A county report released in February estimated that offering universal pre-K could cost the county up to $128 million annually. However, it also found that early-learning programs pay off by reducing child welfare and criminal justice costs, lowering spending on special education and school support, and increasing future income for participants.

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