Students Enjoy a Balancing Act
Schultz, Kate, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Kate Schultz Daily Herald Staff Writer
Late this school year, Maggie Brewner's fifth-grade classroom at Richmond Elementary School in St. Charles had no chairs. Two months before the end of the year, Brewner replaced all the classroom chairs with physio balls.
Physio balls are commonly used in physical therapy and for exercising, but they can also improve posture and balance. Brewner got the idea to replace chairs with physio balls after talking to a physical therapist at Advanced Physical Medicine in St. Charles. She decided to research the use of physio balls on the Internet, and she learned that the exercise balls improve circulation to the brain, which helps the patient function better in many aspects of everyday life.
Susan Klein-Vogelbach was the first doctor to use physio balls for physical therapy in the 1960s in Switzerland. Since then, many schools in Switzerland have replaced chairs with physio balls, also commonly called Swiss balls, in the classroom. After extensive research, Brewner decided she wanted to try it in her class.
With the help of Dr. David Williamson, a chiropractor at Advanced Physical Medicine, she made the switch from chairs to physio balls in her classroom. "People told me I was crazy because it would be a distraction," Brewner said. "So before we brought the balls into the room, the students created a list of 11 rules to obey. One rule was the balls were to be used for sitting only unless told otherwise. They also decided that if anyone broke any of the rules, the punishment would be to take away the student's ball. I've never had to do that."
Brewner said that there was been a significant improvement in her students' grades and behavior since the implementation of the physio balls. "The kids stay on task longer because they don't feel the need to get up and walk around. Their test scores have been improving too."
Williamson said the reason the students are behaving better and improving is because the balls "require them to maintain balance unconsciously. It makes the body aware of what's going on and is a form of stress relief."
The balls require the students to sit up straight. If they slouch they will lose their balance and the ball will become uncomfortable. "It's good for their health overall. There are physiological, mental and academic benefits," Williamson said.
"The students and parents have responded well to the change," Brewner said. "The kids love them and parents have said the students sleep better."
The balls especially help students with ADD or ADHD. The slight constant movement helps them maintain their focus and helps them concentrate.
As with anything, safety is a priority. "These balls can do more harm than good if they are the wrong size," Williamson said. "It's important to make sure the students are fitted properly." Each student in Brewner's class was measured and fit for a ball by a doctor and each ball is marked with a number so that each student knows which ball is theirs.
The balls can also be dangerous if they are punctured, so the class received anti-burst balls. "This way if they were to be punctured, the air would leak out slowly and not collapse. It is very safe," Williamson said.
Brewner is the only teacher at Richmond to use physio balls in the classroom, but others have expressed interest. "It was beneficial for me to start using them in the middle of the year, because I got to see the before and after. Next year I won't have that benefit because I'll be using them all year," she said.
"We hope to have physio balls in every classroom in the future," Williamson said. "The benefits are endless."
Sing out proud: Four Haines Middle School choirs each took first place in their individual competitions, with one being named the Grand Champion at the Music Showcase Festival in May.
The event, held at Niles North High School in Skokie, featured singing groups from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
The groups were entered in four categories. Haines earned first- place honors for its Mixed Concert, Women's, Men's and Gospel choirs.
The Gospel Choir also won the Grand Champion Trophy for Junior High/Middle School Choirs for earning the highest score among all of the competing schools.
The Gospel Choir performed the following songs to earn the Championship Trophy: "Steal Away," "The River" and "Angels Watching Over Me."
Haines eighth-grader Molly Fremgen was named "Outstanding Soloist" for her solo in "Angels Watching Over Me."
The Concert Choir boys were awarded the "Outstanding Section" award for their performances throughout the competition.
The Gospel Choir also won the coveted "Sweepstakes Award" for posting the highest score of the competition season. The Haines Middle School Concert Choir has been awarded this honor for the past four years.
Choir members include seventh-graders Molly Clementz; Kristina Gentile; Ben Gaddis; Clayton Ginther; Danielle Goebbert; Barbara Homan; Renee Kawecki; Brooke Lauritzen; Ben Marquez; Nate Nesbit; Kelsey Ray; Jack Shales; Garrett Unterberg; and Katelynn Warner.
The choir also includes eighth-graders Kalli Bravos; Joey Darroch; Beth Deodhar; Billy Diamond; Katie Dorsch; Jenny Durkop; Molly Fremgen; Jenny Fuerst; Courtney Harloff; Kara Johnston; Katelynn Johnston; Hannah Koch; Beth Licke; Michael Mastalski; Amber Perkins; Sarah Sadigh; Lin Stacey; Peter Tate; Alex Templeton; Carla Tietz; and Chris Zimmerman.
The Concert Choir is under the direction of Judy Mastalski and is accompanied by St. Charles North High School sophomore Evan Bravos and District 303 alumna Sarah Mastalski.
St. Charles IMSA students: Two students in the St. Charles school district have been accepted at the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora for the 2004-2005 school year.
Wredling Middle School graduate Corinne Horn and St. Charles North High School sophomore Susan Dittmer will attend IMSA, a three-year residential high school offering advanced curriculum to the state's brightest students.
Like most IMSA students, Dittmer began her high school career at her local high school and will transfer to IMSA for her sophomore, junior and senior years. Horn is one of a select few allowed each year to enter a year early and complete high school in three years. She received Wredling's Deane B. Westland Science Award at graduation June 1.
IMSA accepted 250 of the 609 students who applied for the 2004- 05 school year. Of the 250, 212 were ninth-grade students and 38 were eighth-graders.
Thirty-six St. Charles students have attended IMSA since the school opened in 1989.
Problem-Solvers take third: The St. Charles East High School Future Problem-Solvers team took third place at the program's international conference, held June 3-6 in Lexington, Ky.
The contest comprises four days of competition among high school students trying to solve real-world issues set in the future.
East High School's team included 2003-04 juniors Melissa Burnett, Liz Girten and Hannah Newfield-Plunkett, and 2003-04 senior and now-graduate Kate McEnerney.
The team competed against 53 others in the high school team written problem solving competition. This is the first time an Illinois high school team has won in this event.
East High School's team had to address the challenges associated with expanding immigration to colonized Mars in the year 2053.
"We never dreamed we would have gone this far and it was wonderful to be supported by the school and the student body," said club faculty adviser Carol Tegge.
Each year more than 2,000 students and coaches attend the international conference by qualifying at earlier competitions.
More than 250,000 students worldwide participate in the Future Problem-Solver program. Teams from the Unites States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and other countries attended the competition.
Theater workshop for kids: Students from St. Charles North, East and Geneva high schools will present a three-session theater workshop this summer for incoming fifth- and sixth-grade students interested in theater.
The classes will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 5, 12 and 19 at the Norris Cultural Arts Center, which is adjacent to St. Charles East High School. Cost is $20 for all three sessions.
Students will learn "theater etiquette," get a tour of the facility, learn about costumes, lighting and other technical elements of the theater, play skills games, learn and practice improvisational skills and more.
The program is the brainchild of St. Charles North senior Katie Waller, who has recruited theater and choir friends from St. Charles East and Geneva high schools, district spokesman Tom Hernandez said.
Student second in WYSE: West Aurora High School senior Dustin Fell won second place in the state in the engineering graphics test portion of the WYSE competition in April.
WYSE, Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering, hosts academic challenges in which some of the brightest students compete against their peers at other schools.
This year, the West Aurora WYSE team placed first at the regional competition at Waubonsee Community College and took fourth place at the sectional competition at NIU.…
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Publication information: Article title: Students Enjoy a Balancing Act. Contributors: Schultz, Kate - Author. Newspaper title: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL). Publication date: June 16, 2004. Page number: 1. © 2009 Paddock Publications. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.
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