Future of fitness: St. Paul school at forefront of measuring student health

May 2, 2013, St. Paul Pioneer Press

By Mila Koumpilova

Carolyn Will once got stomachaches as she braced for the annual Presidential Physical Fitness Test, the decades-old staple of gym class.

But her son, a fourth-grader at St. Thomas More Catholic School in St. Paul, looks forward to the test: He logs in sit-ups at home and coaches his cousin on proper sprinting form. Will credits veteran physical education teacher Gene Parrish’s knack for firing up students — free of judgment or drill sergeant tactics.

On Parrish’s watch, the school has gained a rare distinction: In seven of the past 10 years, it was the Minnesota school with the most students who score in the top 15 percent nationwide. But last year’s award was the school’s last. Continue reading