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Walking tall

Running is not allowed in the Forest Park Elementary School hallways, but walking is.

It starts with a stretch, followed by a half-mile of fast-paced walking and another stretch at the end to make sure all the muscles are not strained.

For the students who participate in the school's Walking to Peak Performance club, walking is a fun way to see friends before class begins, while improving their health.

Health teacher Debra Varsames, who introduced Forest Park to the walking club concept, said the club is new to the school this year, but she first introduced it to students at Veeder Elementary School two years ago. The program, she said, invites students who signed up to come to school early and take a walk for about 15 minutes, learning about health and exercise and revving up their bodies for the day, every Monday and Wednesday morning before classes begin at 8:45.

The program is optional and was presented to students by their teachers at the beginning of the year.

This is their choice; it's not something they have to do, said Varsames.

Varsames said the walking club now has more members in the second semester " currently 14 " than in the first.

"It gets them going in the morning, right before school, and they're able to focus better [in class]," said Varsames.

Pamela Moore, the mother of first-grader Patrick Reilly, said the club has been a positive influence on her son.

"I think it's great for them," Moore said. "I think the kids really enjoy it, and I think it helps them to focus once they get into the classroom."

On Monday, April 6, Moore joined her son for the morning walk.

Varsames said parents will often join the kids on their rounds, but in order to walk with the club, students need to arrive to school early, by 8:15 a.m.

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