Seattle Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith started by jumping up and down. Later he balanced on one foot with his arms over his head. Then he mimicked swimming.
The reigning Super Bowl MVP wasn't celebrating his 69-yard pick-six against the Denver Broncos. Smith wasn't even playing football.
He was in Anchorage, learning a new warm-up routine from College Gate Elementary schoolchildren.
Smith's visit Friday was one of College Gate's rewards for winning a national NFL-sponsored contest that asked schools to create a one-minute video displaying their physically active students. As one of five grand prize winners, College Gate received $15,000 that will be used to purchase cross-country skis and snowshoes.
The school has P.E. teacher Katie Povolo to thank.
"She was the one who orchestrated all of this," principal Darrell Berntsen said.
Povolo and ASD-TV's Stephen Kennedy created a fast-motion montage of students playing football, making snow angels, doing sit-ups, building a snowman, running around on snowshoes -- all of it filmed outside on a snow-covered playground.
Povolo, in her fifth year at College Gate, preached staying active long before the camera was rolling, and she wants her students to continue being active long after they leave elementary school.
"When you start at a young age, you build that habit," she said. Exercise not only builds muscle, she said, it fosters academic achievement.
Though she only sees her students 90 minutes a week, Povolo stresses at least an hour of daily activity, as does contest sponsor Fuel Up to Play 60, a program started by the NFL and the National Dairy Council. Her students receive healthy doses of activity like rope climbing and push-ups during gym class, and Povolo also emphasizes good eating habits.
"They go hand in hand," she said.
Positive role model
An avid runner and triathlete, Povolo does more than teach the importance of staying active, she lives it. Kids need positive role models, she said. Role models like Malcolm Smith.
Smith's message was a familiar one -- exercise daily and eat nutritious foods. Smith likes to start his day with a breakfast of oatmeal with yogurt and blueberries. He told the kids his favorite veggies include asparagus and broccoli -- but judging from their collective "eeeww," College Gate students don't share the same opinion.
Standing on stage with a backdrop of five student-made thank-you signs, Smith encouraged the kids to listen to their parents and teachers and to stay motivated.
"If you want something, you just have to go after it," he said.
MOVE IT, MOVE IT
Wearing green and navy T-shirts, College Gate staff started the assembly by parading around the multipurpose room each displaying different activities. A bubble-blowing stationary bike took center stage as others with hula hoops, trekking poles and tennis rackets danced around to the song "I Like to Move It."
Students displayed their best dance moves during an end-zone celebration contest that featured a boy smashing his air guitar after a wicked solo. He didn't win, probably due to the Chicago Bears jersey he was wearing.
Several sixth-graders described Smith's visit the same way -- awesome.
"It was fun and fantastic," Hana Seetomona said.
The day was about fun. A reward. After all, College Gate earned it.
"We did a great job," Povolo said. "It's something to be really proud of."
BE LIKE MALCOLM
The Anchorage School District's job is to create healthy, responsible citizens, Povolo said, and exercise and eating well are part of that education. At College Gate , the latter is a joint effort between students and staff led by Povolo. Her message is simple: everyone can play for 60 minutes a day, no matter your height or weight.
"Everybody can do it," she said. "We all can exercise and move."
Povolo holds multiple competitions -- like which class can collectively eat the most fruits and vegetables -- to keep her students motivated. She's ending the school year with one competition per week for the final 10 weeks.
"The competition part makes it fun for the kids," she said, and is key to keeping the students engaged.
A day full of homework and tests can be draining, but gym class offers students some reprieve, sixth-grader Jessica Johnson said.
"It gives a little relief," she said. "It makes me feel good."
Eating healthy and exercising daily is important, sixth-grader Ioane Motuga said, especially if students want to emulate College Gate Elementary's recent visitor,
"It will make us look like Malcolm Smith one day," he said.
Reach Mike Nesper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
By MIKE NESPER