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Who says schools are dumping physical fitness?

PS 236 in Mill Basin took a morning off from the classroom on May 7 to educate students on healthy living and physical fitness. The Avenue U primary school pupils took part in a massive Zumba fitness class to celebrate raising more than $1,200 for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

“There were 700 kids — it was fantastic,” said Relay for Life organizer Joe Gillette.

The classes are part of a district-wide health education effort the Relay is spearheading, and the group has already visited more than a dozen schools in District 22 to talk about healthy living and exercise. Thanks to warmer weather, Wednesday’s session was the first time this year such an event could be held outside, which allowed the whole school to participate in two blocks rather than class by class, Gillette said.

Harbor Fitness instructor Krista Witkowski led students, teachers, and administrators in two sessions of the part-dance-part-aerobics exercise routine.

Leading up to the fitness class, kids at PS 236 raised money for the Relay by selling and decorating luminaries, said principal Salil Paingankar.

The school also joined 24 area elementary and junior high schools in putting together a team to participate in the Relay for Life’s 2014 relay on June 7, Gillette said.

The Relay fund-raiser is one of many the school participates in — recently it donated pet supplies to the Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition, Paingankar said.

“We’re not just about education,” he said. “Our school wants to get involved in events that help people out.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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