At Chicago Bulls College Prep, school administrators have been using CrossFit as the physical-education program for two years. The facility is a campus of the Noble Network of Charter Schools.
A general problem in the U.S. is that physical-education teachers aren’t held to the same high standards as academic teachers, says Jason Ronai, assistant principal at the school and a CrossFit Level 1 trainer. At Noble, the P.E. teachers strive for the same standards as those teaching English or science, and the goal is to link fit bodies with strong minds.
“We’re gonna take numbers from the improvement rate—the growth rate of their physical numbers here in high school—and associate that with college-graduation rate, (and) I think it’s going to be the proof in the pudding that everybody needs,” Ronai says.
More than 90 percent of Chicago Bulls College Prep students are minorities, and Noble officials believe CrossFit can help students assimilate at college, says David Oclander, principal fellowship at Noble.
“If they have something that they can connect with kids from Iowa and Maine and all over the country,” he says, “if they have something like CrossFit that they can connect with and then they can build a community off of that, that will really help our persistence rate.”
“You make a promise to yourself and everybody here that as soon as you step foot on that college campus, you’re gonna go around saying, ‘What’s your Fran time? Where’s the CrossFit gym? Where’s the club?’ And if doesn’t exist, you’re going to start it. And then after that, four years later when you graduate, I want to see 10 good burpees on the stage,” he tells a group of students.
Video by Mike Koslap.
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Additional reading: Training the Brain by Chris Cooper, published June 18, 2013.