Beverly Woods Elementary recently held a high-profile pep rally hosting Carolina Panthers' offensive tackle Jordan Gross, offensive lineman Travelle Wharton, mascot Sir Purr and Top Cats cheerleaders, as well as several NFL representatives.
The event was in honor of Beverly Woods receiving a $10,000 grant from NFL PLAY 60 Super School sweepstakes, which encourages children to exercise 60 minutes a day.
"The more physically fit and active (students are), the better they perform in the classroom," said Riley Fields, community relations director for the Panthers and host of the ceremony Dec. 7.
Schools across the country entered, describing their initiatives to get kids moving; then one school in each of the 32 NFL markets and two non-NFL markets were selected. Beverly Woods was the only school chosen from North and South Carolina, and more than 220 schools in the region applied. The school has been having walk-to-school days and has incorporated the importance of daily exercise and good nutrition in its curriculum.
At the ceremony, selected students played fitness-themed "Jeopardy" with Gross and Wharton, which included several fitness challenges such as relay races and dress-like-a-Panthers-player contest.
After the ceremony, Gross and Wharton spent an hour with select students in an "ultimate P.E. class," doing drills like running the speed ladder, and passing and throwing the football. . The NFL donated the equipment used in the class to the school.
"These kids are at an important age, developing those lifelong habits," said Fields. "(This) is a fun and exciting way to promote something kids should be doing anyway."
Gross said he enjoyed the event because he believes in it and enjoys hanging out with students. "I want to be around kids, around the teachers who are making a difference."