Kathy Reilly, a Fremont Elementary School physical education teacher, recently received the Excellence in Character Award for the 2011-12 school year.
Reilly was recognized for enthusiastically engaging students in fitness activities using the natural surroundings of the school's prairie, wetlands and farmland, which are home to Fremont.
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The program is sponsored by Character Matters in Lake County, the Lake County Regional Office of Education, College of Lake County, and the Lake County After School Coalition.
Before the school year ends, students work with Reilly to plant seeds for corn, tomatoes, squash, and pumpkins. She teaches them how this bending motion is so good for their core muscles in addition to what fresh vegetables can do for their young bodies.
During the summer, Reilly stops by the school to tend to the garden, pulling weeds away from the peppers and zucchini, making sure everything is watered regularly.
In the fall, she makes a game of visiting the school's larger pumpkin farm, which is in a field about a quarter mile south of the school. Reilly rides her bike to the pumpkin patch while kindergarten through second-graders jog beside her. After she and her students harvest the crops, she encourages them to sample the ripe fruits and vegetables.
During her walks through the gardens, Reilly emphasizes that students need to care for their environment and themselves by respecting the outdoors and growing fruits and vegetables.
Three Fremont Middle School students also received the award.
Last January, a Fremont bus was involved in an accident. While, no one was seriously injured, the kindergarten through fifth-graders on the bus were upset. On the day of the accident, bus safety patrollers Diana Guliyeva, 14, and Valerie Azcona, 14, were riding home. Student Alexandrea Guiritan, 13, was also on the bus. Although Alexandrea does not officially serve on the bus safety patrol, she interacts with students who sit in the back of the bus, and encourages them to behave.
Immediately following the crash, the three eighth-graders began checking on the children around them to make sure everyone was unharmed. Their first thoughts were for the safety of the younger children and they spoke with the children in soothing voices, hugged the little ones, and encouraged everyone around them to remain in their seats.
The trio showed responsibility, caring, citizenship, respect and fairness. While the last two traits might seem trite in a situation like a bus accident, they were essential to display so all children were comforted equally and order was maintained by keeping children in their seats.