After working their minds in the classroom, some students at Silverado High School now work biceps, abs and other muscles at a new campus fitness center.
Outfitted with donated gym equipment, the center -- and a program in which Silverado kids train special needs students -- was cooked up by Principal David Gordon, who seems to have a habit of building school fitness centers.
"A strong mind should be housed in a strong body," Gordon explained. "Balance in all things is important."
On a recent weekday at the Mission Viejo continuation school, students could be seen pedaling stationary bicycles, yanking rowing machines and coaching smiling Futures School special needs students doing pull-ups and leg lifts.
"The kids from both schools are forming important friendships," Gordon said.
Second Time Around
Gordon came to Silverado having previously built a fitness center as principal at Alta Vista High School in San Diego County.
“This was something I had in mind from the start,” he said.
When he arrived at Silverado, students had no place for P.E. classes on campus. Last year, Silverado built its first basketball court, and now the fitness center.
At Alta Vista, students who were on time to class and getting passing grades were rewarded with time at the fitness center. “When the bell rang, students sprinted to the gym,” Gordon said.
He hopes for similar results at Silverado. “There is a lot of competition for a kid’s attention," he said. "We need everything possible to keep kids in school and working toward a diploma. The fitness center is another way to connect."
So far, so good.
More than 100 students have used the center each week since it opened in mid-January.
“The kids love it. There was a lot of excitement when they saw the equipment for the first time,” he said.
Best Buddies Work Out Together
The fitness center also benefits Futures students, special needs young adults who are on the Silverado campus daily.
On Wednesday mornings, Silverado student volunteers work out with Futures students in the Best Buddies fitness program.
“Both groups of kids have really benefited,” Gordon said. “The Best Buddies Program is just the next step in our collaboration.”
The Gift of a Gym
A key player in creating the fitness center was Steve Datte, a regional vice president of 24 Hour Fitness who served as Silverado’s “Principal for the Day” last year.
Thanks to his efforts, a San Diego 24 Hour Fitness donated excess equipment to Silverado. And Crunch fitness offered discount memberships so students can continue working out off-campus.
“We had a lot of help in making this happen,” Gordon said. And it's still taking shape. "I have a few more ideas I’d like to see happen," he added.