ADELPHI – Buck Lodge Middle School is one of only three schools in the state and 12 in the country to receive a $100,000 grant for a brand new fitness center.
On Aug. 2, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that three schools in the state were awarded a “Don’t Quit!” Fitness Center from a grant through the National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils. The three statewide awards are part of a larger national grant campaign that only included four states this year: Maryland, Colorado, Louisiana and Oregon.
“The national foundation is really excited to award three Maryland schools with new fitness centers that will have a lasting impact on kids and their community now, and well into their future,” said Jake Steinfeld, chairman of the national foundation.
The foundation’s mission is to “build a nation of the fittest, healthiest kids in the world.” One of the organization’s strategies to do so is through the national “Don’t Quit” campaign, which will eventually reach all 50 states. The fitness center grants are fully funded through private-public partnerships with companies like the Anthem Foundation, Nike Inc., TuffStuff Fitness Equipment and The Coca-Cola Company.
Maryland was selected for the “Don’t Quit” campaign in January.
“When I declared war on childhood obesity, I knew it would take an army of leaders to make a difference. I was thrilled when Gov. Hogan joined our efforts to help put a stop to this disease in Maryland,” Steinfeld said.
Applications for the grants were accepted from Feb. 1 through May 31 and schools were selected based on their demonstration of “outstanding leadership in getting and keeping their students fit,” according to Hogan’s office.
The three schools selected for the new, state-of-the-art fitness centers, are Newport Mills Middle School in Kensington, Vanguard Collegiate Middle School in Baltimore and Prince George’s County’s own Buck Lodge Middle school.
“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.
And Matthew Smith, the athletic director at Buck Lodge, can attest to the hard work the school has put in concerning student, staff and community health and fitness. In fact, the USDA recently recognized the middle school for its healthy efforts through the Healthier US School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms certification. The school received a gold level distinction.
“We do a lot of things that bring the spotlight to physical education and health programs,” he said.
Smith said the school and the athletic department have hundreds of grant applications and opportunities cross their desk throughout the year and they apply, knowing it’s a shot in the dark. Although Smith and Wayne Lipscomb, the school’s department chair of physical education who applied for the grant, did not know if they would get the new facility, he said they knew it was a great opportunity to bring something back to the school that had not been there since 2011.
“It’s amazing,” Smith said. “I know that me and the other physical education teacher get these grant informations all the time and we apply for them, but the odds of ever getting selected for them, especially when there’s only 12 schools for the whole country. So it’s a great award and we’re very lucky.”
Now the fitness center will provide the athletic department with a new teaching edifice that will not only facilitate 36 different activities, but will also give the athletic teams a safe place to train, especially since Smith said the school’s athletic teams often have to share spaces or even train in the hallways.
Smith said the award also puts immense pressure on his team’s shoulders to make sure the new facility has a significant impact on the school and the students. He also hopes the new weight room will help the faculty and staff at the school stay active and healthy.
“This is just going to fill another spot where it’s going to get our staff members and community members interested in it and hopefully increase the overall health of the school,” he said.
The new fitness center will be installed in one of the middle school’s classrooms before the beginning of the school year and will be celebrated with a grand opening ceremony in the fall.