Games prepare students for LEAP _lowres

Photo provided -- Westdale Heights Academic Magnet School students get ready for their first LEAP Olympics test on April 21.

Westdale Heights Academic Magnet fourth-graders supercharged their standardized test-taking skills with physical games during the school’s annual LEAP Olympics, said Pam Fry, fourth-grade teacher and coordinator of the games.

Fry, along with a team of a dozen teachers and 25 parent volunteers, created and manned a series of games — like a hula hoop ring toss and a balloon relay race — each of which included a series of questions on LEAP subjects the students had to answer before taking their turn.

Students were divided into Red, Blue, Yellow, Green and Orange teams, each taking practice tests on LEAP subject areas in between games.

Getting the body moving with fun, low-pressure games makes learning fun, Fry said, and students are competing for real prizes, including gift cards for individual winners of gold, silver and bronze medals.

The winning team also won a prize, Fry said.

But that wasn’t the only good news for WHAM students last week, said Lynn Mitchell, a guidance counselor at the school.

WHAM was one of four Louisiana schools to be named a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, according to a news release.

Baton Rouge Magnet High School, Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette also won the designation.

The schools were nominated by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Education.

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. and Christy Goldfuss, managing director of the White House Council of Environmental Quality, made the announcement in Washington on April 22.

Across the country, 47 schools, 15 districts and 11 postsecondary institutions were honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness and ensure effective sustainability education.

“I congratulate these schools, districts and postsecondary institutions for their commitment to sustainable facilities, health, and classroom practices,” King said. “The healthiest, most inspiring school facilities can and should be another tool to level the playing field, particularly for underserved students. These honorees are 21st century learning environments that encourage every student and teacher to perform at his or her best.”

The Louisiana Environmental Education Commission’s Green Schools Program offers educational and funding opportunities to help reduce schools’ environmental impact and health disparities that can provoke achievement gaps. It also engages students in hands-on learning. Instruction and activities complement state curriculum with a solid foundation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects while teaching civic skills and opening doors to green career pathways, according to the release.

Louisiana’s nominations were submitted by Brian Gautreau, Green Schools coordinator at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.