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St. Louis Rams Super School Wins $10,000 Grant

Posted Dec 7, 2012


A sea of screaming students, all decked out in blue and gold, eagerly awaited the arrival of their esteemed guests on Tuesday morning. Their school, William R. Cappel Elementary School, was recently named the 2012 PLAY 60 Super School winner in St. Louis, and coming to help them celebrate were St. Louis Rams tackle Rodger Saffold and wide receiver Brandon Gibson, as well as Rams cheerleaders and Rampage.

“The fact that all the kids were sitting out there and already had their signs up and were all cheering, that was better than the Red Carpet, I think,” Saffold said.

At the start of the school year, the school participated in Back-to-Football Friday, a nationwide program to kick off the NFL season. As part of the program, schools were encouraged to participate in the NFL PLAY 60 Super School contest and submit three essays explaining how they promoted pride of their NFL team and how the school was committed to health and wellness. William R. Cappel took part in the contest for the second time since the program’s inception. This year, with more student involvement and school projects incorporating lessons involving football, the school was named the 2012 Super School winner.

“When our contact came in to tell me we won, I said, ‘That’s not real. Call ‘em,’” William R. Cappel Elementary School physical education teacher Jodi Musterman said. “She came back and said it was for real. I was almost in tears and down on my knees – all with a class in the gym. It was very exciting.”

In order to win the Super School contest, William R. Cappel expanded its football efforts beyond just gym class. The teachers made an effort to relate lessons to the game as well as the PLAY 60 theme of being active and healthy. One such example was when students were put in the hypothetical role of NFL team owner. Their tasks ranged from determining what kind of budget they would need to creating a stadium to choosing a mascot, and everything in between.

“(Our school) didn’t just say a pledge or talk about it independently,” William R. Cappel Elementary School principal Phil Brock said. “They wove it into their curriculum. So when the students had math time, they talked about budgets. And they did all their math concepts by incorporating the NFL PLAY 60 theme. It was something they embraced and practiced on a daily basis.”

The school’s efforts were rewarded on Tuesday with some help from the Rams contingency. As a result of their being named the St. Louis Super School winner, William R. Cappel received a $10,000 NFL PLAY 60 grant for health and wellness programming or equipment. In addition, all schools in the Lincoln County School District have the opportunity to win another $10,000 grant, provided by NFL Network and Charter, through the Keep Gym in School program.

“It’s very rewarding to be the leaders in our district when it comes to encouraging other schools to promote health and fitness,” Brock said.

Saffold and Gibson made the visit not only to serve as ambassadors for the Rams, but also to promote the PLAY 60 message. They talked about making healthy choices and the importance of being active and exercising – a point emphasized by Saffold with a big flex for the crowd. Around the students and in the school gymnasium, he felt right at home.

“(This was) a great chance for us to help kids stay active,” Saffold said. “When I was a kid, gym was the most exciting part of the day. And the fact that it’s so important now to keep it in school is all for the better.”

Better for allowing kids to be kids, according to Gibson.

“It’s a joy being that young and having no worries and just being able to go out and have fun with your friends,” Gibson said.

From their time in the spotlight during the assembly, to leading 50 students through six fitness activities, Saffold and Gibson made an impression on the students and staff.

“It was so neat to see “big kids” being little kids,” Musterman said. “(Saffold and Gibson) were both great with the kids – they had all the energy. They were funny, easy to talk to and they were great representatives for the Rams.”

At the fitness stations, Saffold led students through an agility drill while Gibson headed up a running back challenge. The Rams cheerleaders led the students in a free weight exercise and Rampage roamed the room while also helping with a jump rope challenge. The final station involved a push-up and sit-up competition. William R. Cappel was able to keep the equipment from the impromptu PLAY 60 event, the final reward for being named the Super School winner.

“The most important part (of the day) was spreading the message,” Saffold said. “Making sure kids stay active, that they really focus on their nutrition and that they set themselves up for better lives in the future.”

The future is something Musterman and Brock will take into heavy consideration when deciding how to allocate the $10,000 grant. Musterman said the school will look into installing a track or adding more playground equipment. But before any decisions are made, Brock said the school will communicate with all stakeholders to decide how the money would best be used.

“We want to make sure it going to benefit not just the students, but everyone in the community,” Brock said.

To learn more about the Super School program and other opportunities associated with NFL PLAY 60, visit http://www.nflrush.com/play60.

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