‘Lifelong Lifestyle’ Course Begins In Fredonia

Who could be better to teach students about health and fitness than a pair of experienced coaches?

Fredonia teachers and coaches Nick Bertrando and Joanne Lotter spoke at a recent Board of Education meeting about a new class the district is offering this year. The course is titled Personal Fitness and Nutrition, and it is offered as a co-ed, one semester elective class for high school students.

The course is defined as, “creating lifelong healthy habits improving physical fitness, nutrition, and overall well-being.” Bertrando, the Fredonia varsity boys basketball coach, and Lotter, the varsity girls swim coach, are the instructors of the course.

Bertrando said the class has been two years in the making. He called the course “a blend of a little bit of what we can do from a physical standpoint, but also with what we’re putting in our bodies to maximize that fitness.”

Lotter noted as a health and physical education teacher, working with Bertrando, a social studies teacher, offers an opportunity to offer “a really unique program.”

Each teacher has a section of 25 students while the other has a planning period. “It’s really working out great so far,” Lotter said.

Bertrando called the course a “lifelong lifestyle” lesson. “Where they are now might not be where they are in 10, 15, 20 years. We want them to at least have the opportunity to explore good practices,” Bertrando added. “It’s really up to them what they want to do with it. That’s the nice thing about the course, it’s very individualized. We’re much like, on a hike, we’re the guide, but it’s their hike. We’re there to make sure they don’t veer too far off course, but at the same time, allowing them to be very open with what they want to do with their physical and nutritional plan.”

Lotter defined the range of students from full-time student athletes to students who were uncomfortable in a gym setting. “It really is building confidence,” Lotter said.

The instructors hold short lectures before lab work, from physical fitness to nutrition activities like cooking healthy meals. Students are expected to design individualized fitness plans with a portfolio of their activities.

“We’ve really tried to encourage them to diversify their plan as much as possible, hitting the five related health fields: muscular strength, endurance, body mass index, flexibility, and cardio. Whether or not they get that in every single 40-minute session, we are encouraging them that if they don’t get it in here, they have time throughout the day to make sure they are hitting all five of those components,” Bertrando said.

“It’s been a great semester so far. The kids love it,” added High School Principal Darrin Paschke. “The mental health component of being physically fit and eating well, doing those relaxations and stretches, I think that’s a very notable component of this. That is a great outcome.”

Board of Education member Sheila Starkey Hahn responded to the presentation to credit Bertrando and Lotter’s efforts. “Thank you so much. My son is taking this class and he went to the gym today. I tried to get him a McDonald’s burger, he wouldn’t let me,” Hahn said. “I just love that it’s real-life application and something valuable for someone’s whole life. It’s fantastic.”

Board of Education member Lisa Powell Fortna added, “When we think about what we want our graduates to have, this sounds like something that everybody should have. … I don’t think we want our students leaving this building not knowing basic things about the kitchen and their health and being able to have that lifelong focus.”

Board of Education Vice President Steve Johnston agreed. “All graduates should be exposed to this,” he said.


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