Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Losing bad fitness, eating habits makes kids winners

Tucson Mission Manor third- through fifth-graders best Phoenix foes

Fourth-grader Carmen Martinez does push-ups, along with third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students and teachers at Mission Manor  Elementary School, 600 W. Santa Rosa St., to prepare for a fitness  challenge rematch between them and a Phoenix school. Mission Manor won for the second consecutive year.

Fourth-grader Carmen Martinez does push-ups, along with third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students and teachers at Mission Manor Elementary School, 600 W. Santa Rosa St., to prepare for a fitness challenge rematch between them and a Phoenix school. Mission Manor won for the second consecutive year.

Some very firm Tucson students kicked some equally firm Phoenix butt in Friday’s Operation Tone Up.

The competition, held at Castles N’ Coasters amusement park in Phoenix, pitted students from Sunnyside Unified School District’s Mission Manor Elementary against those from Phoenix’s R.E. Miller Elementary.

Tucson won with an overall score of 94-90.

“It was a fantastic event,” said Tony “Mr. Tone” Lamka, who created the program designed to increase good exercise and nutritional habits and decrease childhood obesity. He noted this year’s sponsor was the University of Phoenix.

Students started exercise training and boning up on nutritional knowledge at the beginning of the semester.

Three hundred students trained, but only 15 were randomly chosen to strut their stuff in the final showdown. Five students each were picked from the third, fourth and fifth grades.

This year’s Tucson win was its second consecutive over Phoenix. Last year, Old Pueblo won 15-14.

The competition was broken down into three categories.

Tucson beat out Phoenix in the 26 minutes of continuous exercise with a score of 78-75.

Phoenix was also felled in the nutrition question category, where Tucson ate them alive 6-5.

Both teams scored 10 points in the scenario category, where students are asked to describe how nutrition really matters in different scenarios, like taking an early-morning test.

“They worked out so hard,” said Kristi Hamblen, a fourth-grade teacher at Mission Manor, 600 W. Santa Rosa St.

Although the workouts were grueling – 30 minutes a day, four days a week – she never heard complaints.

“The only complaints were when some students were joking that now their pants were too loose,” she said. “It’s not a weight-loss program, but one that changes lifelong habits.”

Fourth-grade teacher Tina Chavez was equally impressed by Operation Tone Up’s results.

“The kids were standing so tall, so proud,” she said. “I saw a really big increase in confidence. Some of the kids got to Phoenix and said, ‘I’m not shy up here.’ That’s because they are good athletes and they’re smart.”

She noted one more benefit of the program, this one for the teachers:

“We get to work out with them.”

Tony Lamka, also known as
Jim Paczosa, principal at R.E. Miller Elementary School in Phoenix, gets dunked after Mission Manor won the competition.

Jim Paczosa, principal at R.E. Miller Elementary School in Phoenix, gets dunked after Mission Manor won the competition.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

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For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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