A Night On The Town

An old adage says, “While the parents are away, the kids will play.”

While this is true, the reverse also has proven to be true thanks to Southwestern Elementary School’s Parent’s Night Out event.

The Parents Night Out event was held recently, and allowed parents to drop their kids off at the school for a $20 fee and have an evening to spend at their discretion. According to Sean Swan-Leuze, a physical education instructor at Southwestern Elementary, the event was intended to help keep kids active while the parents had an opportunity to spend some time together.

“Basically, the whole idea was that, during the Christmas season, parents probably needed a little extra time to get away and get some extra shopping done or go out to dinner,” said Swan-Leuze. “So, we call it Parents Night Out because they drop the kids off while they go out. (For the kids), there was a big activity in the gym, the pool was open for open swim and the cafeteria had three different games that they could play.”

The idea for the Parents Night Out event came from Swan-Leuze’s daughter, Hannah, who is in fifth-grade.

“I can’t remember where I was but I just had an idea,” said Hannah. “I thought we could all go swimming, have games in the cafeteria, and we could set up the new (Nintendo) Wii and do games in the gym. And we would have prizes, we had shuffle iPods that we gave out, and (give) stuff to parents.”

The registration forms of students who participated in Parents Night Out were placed into a hat and a winner from each grade was selected at random to win the aforementioned iPod shuffles. The winners of the iPods were: Maggie Passanise, a third-grader; Evan Christensen, a fourth-grader and Mathew Lowry, a fifth-grader.

This is the second annual Parents Night Out event. Last year’s event saw 125 kids participate from 6-10 p.m. This year, the event was capped at 110 kids and shortened by an hour. The proceeds from Parents Night Out go toward the funding of “Gym Class Heroes” medals that students can win as part of the school’s Physical Fitness Olympics, an event that encourages physical improvement throughout the school year.

“We have a goal for our kids at the end of the school year,” said Swan-Leuze. “The high school and middle school have the Presidential fitness testing and what we have done is develop our own because there isn’t a state mandated physical fitness test for us. So we have designed our own and we call it the Physical Fitness Olympics.”

He continued: “What we do is take a pre-test in September and take a post test in May or June. It’s on an individual basis where we take their numbers from September and compare it to their numbers for each event in June and we see how well they do. If they excel, we give them these (Gym Class Heroes) awards that come in gold, silver and bronze.”

According to Troy Moran, who is also a physical education teacher at the school, the “Gym Class Heroes” awards are based on improvement from pre-test to post test. There are a total of nine events in the Physical Fitness Olympics – improvement in eight or nine events will earn a gold medal, improvement in six or seven will earn a silver and improvement in five or less will earn a bronze. A total of nine awards were given out to students, three for each participating grade. At the end of the event, parents came to watch the students receive their awards.

The Parents Night Out event also funds t-shirts for each student participating in the Physical Fitness Olympics and iPads for the school’s physical education program.

The Physical Fitness Olympics are being utilized by the school to not only keep kids physically active but to help prevent childhood obesity, which is on the rise in New York state. Swan-Leuze is planning to continue the Parents Night Out event to provide entertainment for the students and continue the fight against childhood obesity.

Special thanks for those who helped to organize and run the Parents Night Out event include: seventh-graders Alana Dibble, Karen Johnson, Anika Komula, Maddie Nelson and Hadyn Swan-Leuze, who helped with set up and preparations; Aaron Rounds and Pete Conley, who helped supervise the kids and played the games as well; Troy Moran, who helped with the rotation of the games in the gymnasium as well as helping with rotations of games; and fifth-graders Morgan Wilson and Hannah Swan-Leuze, who helped with set up.