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MISSION — At the recent Sharyland Independent School District board meeting, members stressed the importance of fitness and the role it plays in a student’s academic success.

The school district uses a program called FitnessGram. It serves as a tool to provide a student and parent with personal information that can be used in planning a fitness program and develop motivation to take care of their health.

The program is not intended to separate students into categories of fit and unfit, but to increase health awareness and encourage students to make healthier lifestyle choices, said Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Melissa Martinez. The test results are also used to identify areas physical education curriculum and programs need improvement.

A series of six tests are performed that include body mass index, aerobics, trunk lifts, push-ups, curl ups and shoulder stretches. The test results are calculated based on a child’s age and compared with students throughout the state, Martinez explained.

While there is some improvement in most grade levels from the previous year, Martinez said they are striving to encourage not just fitness, but healthier choices in all students.

Sharyland High School Principal Diamantina Chapa pointed out that obesity, or being overweight, has become a norm, as well as unhealthy eating.

Board member Fred Ramirez said the district needed to fight obesity and do it as a community. He also said the district needed to make it fun.

Board members agreed that the district needed to take fitness up a notch and set attainable goals at all grade levels. Additionally, they agreed that education is the best way to inform students and their parents about healthier lifestyle choices, including regular exercising and eating right. Several board members said a healthy lifestyle equals healthy kids and healthy kids equal healthy learners.

Ramirez said he wants Sharyland students to be healthy and smart. They don’t have to be in football or athletics, but realize that exercise is a great way of life, he added.

Dual enrollment was also discussed at the school board meeting. SISD currently averages 500 juniors and seniors enrolled in dual enrollment classes each semester. School board officials said they want to see more students involved in dual enrollment classes and other programs the high school offers.

Depending on what program a student enrolls in, classes taken can count toward college and high school credit. The dual enrollment program credits count for both high school and college credits. The concurrent program is college credit only.

Students have options of enrolling in a four-year or two-year plan. Depending on what classes a students wants and needs to take, classes are available on campus and off campus.

The Dual Enrollment Engineering Academy (DEEA) and Dual Enrollment Medical Science Academy (DEMSA) are two-year programs that are held at South Texas College (STC). Students enrolled in these programs attend the high school for half a day and are then transported to STC for the other half of the day. There are five students enrolled in DEEA and 14 students enrolled in DEMSA this year. There is also a Career and Technology program available through STC.

The University of Texas-Pan American two-year programs consist of three tracks. Track one is nursing/health science, track two is engineering computer science mathematics and track three is biomedical science. There are currently 10 students enrolled in these tracks.

Tricia Guerrero, a Sharyland High School counselor, stressed the importance of students being clear on what they want to study before entering one of these programs. She said counselors spend time with the students interested to make sure they are enrolling in a program they will complete and really want to do.

Board members and Guerrero explained that a student’s ability to perform well in these programs affects their college career.

“Kids need to understand the importance of GPA. GPA matters. GPA is key,” said member Dr. Noe Oliviera.

SISD board members said they wanted to make sure students were being educated about their choices in these programs and that students are made aware these programs do exist.

More information about these programs can be found online at http://www.sharylandisd.org/sharylandhs/site/default.asp under the Counselor’s Corner tab, Go Center, or call 956-580-5300 ext. 1211. There are guidelines that need to be met to enroll in the programs.

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