CM Eppes College has been under construction and repair for over a year, but on Monday the school celebrated another kind of construction project – bodybuilding.
Following a ribbon cut, dozens of students had the chance to use new exercise equipment as part of the DON’T QUIT! from school. Fitness Center. Eppes was one of three schools in North Carolina to receive $ 100,000 in state-of-the-art fitness equipment from the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils.
âYou’ve been through hurricanes, tough times but you really persisted,â Body by Jake fitness icon Jake Steinfeld told students and staff via Zoom. âWhen you come together as a community and don’t give up, great things happen. “
In addition to the coronavirus pandemic, Eppes has been plagued by facility issues since Hurricane Isaias and subsequent storms damaged the school in August 2020. The seventh graders have passed the school year 2020-21 taking classes across the street in a space offered by Immanuel Baptist Church.
In the spring of 2021, structural deficiencies discovered in another area of ââthe school forced the closure of additional classrooms. Ten mobile classrooms have been added to the campus to accommodate learners displaced by the latest repairs.
In February, Tricia Hurt, a health and physical education teacher at Eppes, asked principal Kim Harris if the school could potentially add another construction project, a fitness center. Hurt, who had started a staff training group that met after school, led the Eppes’ efforts to apply to the center. She created a video explaining the challenges the school has overcome and said that Eppes has put fitness at the center of her concerns.
Eppes was chosen along with Charlotte and Perquimans County Colleges to receive cardio equipment, such as stationary bikes and ellipticals; weight machines; and circuit training equipment.
Harris said on Monday that Hurt was the reason the school was able to offer the DON’T QUIT center to students and staff.
“I can’t take any credit for this,” she said at a dedication ceremony attended by North Carolina officials Brian Farkas and Kandie Smith, Superintendent Ethan Lenker and school board representatives Caroline Doherty and Anna Barrett Smith. âMrs. Hurt had an idea and she came, and I gave her permission to run with it. I was her support team at first, and then everyone jumped on board.
The fitness center, located in an annex building that serves as the school’s land house, contains pairs of most equipment to capitalize on the social and motivational aspects of group exercise, Hurt said.
Steinfeld, president of the NFGFC, launched the program to equip elementary and middle schools with fitness centers with the aim of ending childhood obesity. Since 2012, centers have been delivered to 36 states and Washington, DC, North Carolina is one of four states added this year.
Steinfeld said seeing the students onscreen reminded him of his college days in Brooklyn, New York.
âI was an overweight child,â he said. âI had a big stuttering growing up and my dad bought me a set of weights when I was 13. These weights changed my life because not only did they build my body, but they also boosted my confidence and self-esteem.
Eppes eighth-grade student Brooklynne Evans was eager to start using the equipment. A basketball and volleyball player, she said the new center should provide a place not only for the school’s athletes, but also for all students to train.
After spending the year taking classes across the street, Brooklynne said she was thrilled to hear about the center opening.
âI feel like something good had to happen because last year has been a stressful year,â she said.
“One of the reasons I wanted to apply for this is that we as a school just wanted what more could happen?” she said.
“The thing that I hope they understand (is) don’t be afraid to take risks, even if it seems impossible and it seems like, who would do that for us?” Injured said. âI hope they understand that it is ours now and that it is something that has been given to us to help us rebuild our school and our community.