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Sugar Hill school wins award, visit from Falcon player

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Atlanta Falcons' Brent Grimes (20) participates with students in fitness activities, as part of NFLis PLAY 60 campaign, helping kids get 60 minutes of exercise a day, on Tuesday at White Oak Elementary School in Sugar Hill. The school won the NFL PLAY 60 Super School.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Atlanta Falcons' Brent Grimes (20) participates with students in fitness activities, as part of NFLis PLAY 60 campaign, helping kids get 60 minutes of exercise a day, on Tuesday at White Oak Elementary School in Sugar Hill. The school won the NFL PLAY 60 Super School.

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Brent Grimes and his wife, Miko, far right, present White Oak Elementary School, on behalf of the NFL, a $10,000 NFL PLAY 60 grant for health and wellness programming or equipment, on Tuesday to teacher Elizabeth Warnock and principal Jean Loethen-Payne.

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman The students knew an Atlanta Falcons player would be visiting the school on Tuesday morning, but it was a surpise as to who the player would be. Students try to get a peak and are surprised with excitement to see Brent Grimes enter the assembly.

SUGAR HILL -- Students at White Oak Elementary are such an energetic bunch, even professional athlete Brent Grimes had trouble keeping up.

"It's early morning, and they are wide awake and on the ball," said the Atlanta Falcons cornerback between exercise sessions with the students.

Grimes visited the school Tuesday to present a $10,000 check and congratulate school staff on winning the National Football League's PLAY 60 Super School sweepstakes.

White Oak was one of 34 schools selected nationwide to get the grant for health and wellness programming and equipment. School officials said they plan to use the grant money for a walking track near the playground.

Following the check presentation, Grimes spent an hour in the gym with fourth- and fifth-graders as they hula-hooped, sprinted and jumped rope.

Physical Education Director Diana Hall said it was a unique honor to win the award and have Grimes spend time with students.

Principal Jean Loethen-Payne agreed.

"Brent Grimes is a player who shows these kids that they can achieve anything with heart and perseverance," Loethen-Payne said. "This is a very big day for them."

She added that fourth-grade teacher Elizabeth Warnock submitted the winning essay and photos to the NFL, which resulted in Tuesday's big event.

It was a great day, according to students Abbi Holder and Will Hausknecht, both 10.

"We got to meet an Atlanta Falcon," Holder said. "That was really fun."

Hausknecht agreed: "I liked getting to meet Brent Grimes."

Fellow student Alexa Litzenberger, 11, said Grimes came to the school with a very important message.

"Staying healthy and fit is good for you," Litzenberger said. "It can be fun too."

First-grade teacher Candice Easton said she was glad to hear Grimes tout the importance of healthy lifestyles.

"I like that he's speaking about that," Easton said. "Obesity is an ongoing issue in society, and it's a positive message that he's delivering."

Grimes said White Oak students were "awesome."

"I'm glad to be here with them," Grimes said.

He said that staying fit is a battle "in today's age of video games and so many distractions indoors. It's good to get kids out there and let them know that it's important to stay active no matter what age you are."

According to its website, the NFL PLAY 60 sweepstakes is a "campaign to encourage kids to be active for 60 minutes a day in order to help reverse the trend of childhood obesity."

For more information visit www.nflrush.com/play60.