Meet the young rough riders

BURBANK — Roosevelt Elementary School celebrated its namesake’s birthday Monday with a lesson on fitness and healthy choices to honor the late president’s legacy.

Every student received a free jump rope, and each grade had about 25 minutes of freestyle jump rope and relays.

“The school and community are doing a good job to keep kids active,” Jennifer Fagnani, communications director for St. Joseph’s Medical Center, which provided the jump ropes, and whose son Michael is in second grade. “I wish I had one-tenth their energy.”

Organizers said the message for students was a greater appreciation for exercising, eating healthily and staying away from smoking.

“We want to encourage them to make good choices,” fifth-grade teacher Sheryl Hambro said. “[Theodore] Roosevelt had a lot of childhood illnesses . . . and fitness reflects what his beliefs were.”

Ropes stayed on the pavement as kindergartners jumped back and forth and older students competed in relays.

“It was funny to see people tripping in the relay,” said fifth-grader Pressley Myer.

Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy touches on the environment, fitness and adventure, and social studies classes at the school often invoke the 26th president as a way to bring history home.

“What’s unique is they hear about his life, and students identify with that more than other presidents because they go here,” social studies teacher Dylan Winfield said. “They have a deep tie with Roosevelt, and it goes far beyond his legacy because they live it. It’s a culture now, and that’s what we see here.”

Parts of Roosevelt’s philosophy are emphasized in the school’s Peace Builders concentration, which stresses tolerance and cooperation.

“It’s about the common good,” Winfield said.

Tiffany Kalouskian’s fifth-grade class had discussed Roosevelt’s impact leading up to his birthday celebrations.

“By the fifth grade, they already know much about him, but it’s nice to remind them to be proud we’re at Roosevelt,” Kalouskian said. “They’re never too old to bring teddy bears to school.”

Pressley said he visited Yosemite, and Roosevelt had created the national park system.

“He liked bears, and I also learned he stopped people from shooting bears,” Pressley said.

Leslie Searcy, a parent volunteer whose son Omar is a fourth-grader, said the key to healthy habits is limiting video games.

“If he’s finished his homework, I give him one hour,” she said. “Then [it’s] outside to play basketball or a bike ride.”

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