Early morning gym leaves students more awake than ever before

Renee Weisz, A&E Editor

Everyone’s heard the old spiel: exercise improves brain activity and academic success blah blah blah. But gym teacher Michael Caetano took this well-known truth to the next level three years ago with his early morning gym program, Learning Readiness Physical Education (LRPE), now being opened up to all students.

The program aims to improve academic performance and stimulate the brain an hour before first period for optimal results. After learning about the program during a conference at Naperville Central High School in Illinois, Caetano was inspired to bring the program home and help students in the Staples community.

Every day, Caetano plans various activities such as badminton, scooter races, fitness center challenges, and yoga for the students, even getting involved in the fun himself, Rachel Treysler ’16 said, a member in her freshman year.

Student members are just as dedicated as their enthusiastic teacher. Talk about getting up early on school days, these students wake up around 5:00 a.m. each morning for the program which starts at 6:30 a.m. Yet, with the help of LRPE, they are more energized and awake than ever before.

“I found myself awakened and prepared for my day. I was especially lucky if I had a test first period. I was definitely going to ace it,” Rachel Herrera ’16 said, another member in her freshman and sophomore year.

Through his participation in the student activities, Caetano can even attest to this result himself. “I am really proud of it, I have to say, I really do enjoy coming in. I wake up at four in the morning to come in here. But I know, even for myself as the teacher, I feel myself more energized throughout the day,” he said.

Exercise causes the release of a brain protein called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which allows a person to have more focus and absorb information more effectively, Caetano explained. This may have seemed like a gobbledy-gook of incomprehensible language before, but now the science has registered as a reality as “the results just speak for themselves,” he continued.

Sure enough, Rachel Herrera was pleased to witness her success in concrete data. “Mr. Filips, my bio teacher, was really impressed with my improvement in participation [during class] and I ended up aceing my final,” Rachel Herrera said.

Not only have teachers and the student themselves noticed the difference in their performance, but members’ parents are big supporters of the program and look forward to the benefits it will now have for all students.

“[The program] impacted Rachel enough to make her want to do it again, even though it meant arriving at school at 6:00am every morning.
 It’s a fantastic program, and should be offered to all students,” Melanie Herrera, mother to Rachel Herrera, said.

Both Treysler and Rachel Herrera agree that LRPE’s success will only go uphill.

“PE has never been fun ever before [the program]. The morning program has such an educational value that is definitely worth it for all students to experience,” Rachel Herrera said.