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P.E. teacher exercises passion for fitness

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Monday's Man: Kermit Olive

By Robert Villanueva

Doing the job he wants to do is a real workout for Kermit Olive.

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The physical education teacher at Lakewood Elementary School in Stephensburg is serious about child fitness. Olive hopes to promote physical fitness not only in the school but beyond.

“That’s what I’m striving for,” Olive said, noting it’s good to have knowledge about physical fitness, but it needs to be put to use outside the school.

Physical fitness has fallen by the wayside in favor of academic testing, he said. But fit kids test 25-30 percent better than unfit children, Olive said.

Unfortunately, 75 percent of schools in the county don’t have physical education in their curriculum, he said. If Olive had his druthers he’d have treadmills and a swimming pool at the school.

“If I had the space, I’d set up a room like a miniature E-Town Swim (& Fitness Center),” Olive said.

The main cause of the drop in physical fitness, he believes, is the rise of technology, which keeps children sedentary.

A few weeks ago Lakewood held a kick-off for a fitness program that is a collaborative effort between Hardin Memorial Hospital Foundation Inc. and Project Fit America. As part of that program, the school received outdoor fitness equipment that contains a variety of stations.

Olive was involved in writing a proposal required for consideration.

“We wrote the PFA proposal together. (Olive) answered the portions related to his P.E. program,” Lakewood Elementary School Principal Shelee Clark said. “It was definitely a collaborative effort.”

Clark lauded Olive for his work at the school, saying he stands out as an exceptional P.E. teacher because of his passion for fitness.

“Mr. Olive works with each student at Lakewood to set a personal fitness goal,” Clark said. “Goal setting is a large part of his P.E. program.”

Olive said fitness begins early at the school.

“We start them climbing ropes in kindergarten,” he said.

The school includes P.E. three times a week for one week followed by twice a week the next, Olive said.

During a recent fitness testing segment at the school, third-grade students performed timed sit-ups. Olive helped in one of eight spots where other students held the feet and legs of testing students or sometimes manned the stopwatch, trading spots with Theresa Ragsdal, a teacher’s aide.

Olive assesses each student at the beginning and end of the school year.

Once the sit-up testing was complete, students spent a few minutes using badminton rackets to bat a shuttlecock back and forth over a net.

The school gym is an amalgamation of exercise equipment that includes some built from scratch, Olive said, crediting a friend with doing the work. A lot of the equipment focuses on upper body exercise, and Olive was pleased when a representative from Project Fitness America told him Lakewood had the best upper body equipment he had seen in 32 years.

Having started out as an itinerant teacher working at various county schools after working as a helicopter mechanic in the Army, Olive is in his 21st year teaching. He has been at Lakewood since 2003.

“I think I was tasked to do this by the man upstairs,” Olive said.

Ragsdal credited Olive with creating a fitness program the students respond to.

“The kids love it,” Ragsdal said. “The kids seem to like to be challenged.”

Olive’s goal, she said, is not for kids to get skinny.

“He’s very passionate about children getting physically fit,” Ragsdal said.

Clark said Olive spends a lot of time teaching students procedures to ensure each one is successful in reaching his or her fitness goals “in a safe, orderly environment.” She said Olive’s students know he has high expectations for them in class.

“Mr. Olive is very serious about physical fitness,” Clark said.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at 270-505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.

AN EXERCISE IN GETTING TO KNOW KERMIT OLIVE:

City of birth: Fort Eustis, Va.
City of residence: Radcliff
Favorite music: Classic rock and '80s metal.
Favorite TV shows: “Everybody Loves Raymond” and classic TV such as “The Munsters,” “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Beverly Hillbillies”
Favorite movies: “The Book of Eli” and the Mad Max and Dirty Harry movies
Favorite exercise: Lifting weights

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