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St. Mary’s brings GoNoodle exercise program to Rock Branch Elementary School

By Clint Thomas, Metro Reporter
BUTCH COOPER | Putnam Review
Willow Fitzwater and David Niday, students in Lori Perry’s second-grade class at Rock Branch Elementary School in Poca, exercise through dance as part of GoNoodle initiative April 27. The program promotes getting kids to move through various activities.
Arianna Bateman is excited to take part in the GoNoodle presentation at Rock Branch Elementary.
Spencer Jones, front, and Mackenzie Lunsford, students in Lori Perry’s second-grade class, show their moves at Rock Branch Elementary.

Rock Branch Elementary School students gave a moving presentation to visitors at the Nitro school on April 27.

As in moving by jumping, gyrating, wiggling (with a smattering of giggling) and dancing. And all of the ferocious motion entailed learning at the same time.

Specifically, students in Lori Perry’s second-grade class demonstrated the GoNoodle initiative, a set of online movement and mindfulness videos to get them moving vigorously, by running, jumping, dancing, stretching and practicing moments of mindfulness beside their classroom desks.

In a spelling-lesson exercise, for example, Perry’s second-graders contorted along with a colorful character (also known as a GoNoodle Champ) appearing on a video screen in the classroom, imitating his formation of letters with his body. (Think of the body language used by many dancers during the chorus of the Village People’s disco classic “YMCA” -- except with more second-grade-friendly spelling words such as “doctor,” “garden” and “better.”)

The students also expressed their thanks to St. Mary’s Medical Center during the afternoon demonstration. The Huntington-based facility is underwriting the GoNoodle program for all Putnam County elementary schools, as well as those in Cabell, Lincoln, Wayne and Mason counties and Lawrence County, Ohio. St. Mary’s Medical Center is contributing $80,000 a year for three years to GoNoodle.

First Sentry Bank, a neighbor of RBES across First Avenue, is a partner for the Putnam County schools. FSB representatives were on site last week to witness how GoNoodle is incorporated into classroom activities.

RBES Principal Beth Scott said the GoNoodle initiative started in a couple of RBES classrooms three years ago. Interest spread until the entire student body of approximately 230 children in kindergarten through fifth grade has become actively (literally) involved.

Last week’s event served as a showcase of GoNoodle programs for the public, Scott said. “It keeps the students active throughout the day,” she said. “We use it as a transitional type of activity between subjects. It gives students a chance to get up and move and dance. Usually, the content that is available through the programs is somehow related to the content the students are studying at that time. It gives them a chance to be active along with the math or the reading or the language they are currently studying.

“It helps keep their minds fresh. It helps keep them from getting bored with what’s taking place in the classroom. It keeps their ideas flowing. It gives them a chance to talk with one another and collaborate and discuss different things that are going on as they are moving. It helps keep them focused on what’s going on in the classroom,” Scott said.

“Sometimes it’s used as rewards for the kids. If they really stay focused and concentrate on a lesson, then afterward they’re rewarded with a GoNoodle activity,” she said.

The principal also commended the support St. Mary’s and First Sentry Bank provide for GoNoodle. “We’re a small, rural school,” Scott said, “but we have students who are very active, very energetic and who love to learn. This is something we’re excited to share with everyone.”

RBES kindergarten teacher Ruth Dent said this is the first year her class has employed GoNoodle programs at RBES, but it is already paying dividends. For example, a recent Earth Day study of the water cycle was abetted by a GoNoodle video performance of rappers and dancers, she said.

“GoNoodle gives the students a brain break and some wiggle time,” Dent said.

Second-grade student Arianna Bateman, 8, spoke highly of GoNoodle, before her class gave its kinetic demonstration of the program to onlookers.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Arianna said. “It’s fun, because it’s relaxing and it’s calming you down. It gives you that energy for later.”

St. Mary’s cites research stating that GoNoodle’s in-the-classroom physical activity improves childhood health, student behavior and academic performance.

St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation President David Sheils also touts GoNoodle’s efficacy. “GoNoodle is one of the most amazing products I’ve seen to get kids active in the schools as they learn in an academic setting. St. Mary’s is committed to improving the health of our young people and this is a way to make it part of their daily activity,” Sheils said.

The St. Mary’s-led initiative is the first such sponsorship of GoNoodle’s premium version, GoNoodle Plus, in Mountain State schools. The GoNoodle Plus version includes additional videos and games that bring movement and core subjects together to develop fluency in grade-specific mathematics and English Language Arts topics. It also enables teachers to customize GoNoodle content for their lesson plans and academic goals.

Elementary teachers, parents and children in Putnam and Cabell counties can access GoNoodle Plus by signing up at To use GoNoodle in the classroom, teachers need only Internet access and a shared screen, such as a projector or interactive whiteboard. Students can create and customize their accounts and play GoNoodle online, on a mobile device or on Apple TV at home.

In West Virginia, more than 26,000 students in 81 elementary schools in six counties are moving more with GoNoodle’s in-classroom physical activity movement and mindfulness videos, Sheils said. Worldwide, GoNoodle is used in more than 600,000 classrooms by more than 12 million children each month.


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