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Grand opening set for school's fitness facility

A new fitness center at Charter School for Applied Technologies was built to improve the physical fitness of the student body, but parents and staff can benefit, as well.

The grand opening is scheduled for Thursday morning at the Kenmore Avenue campus. Invited guests include Buffalo Sabres alumni Rob Ray, and the team mascots from the Buffalo Bisons and the University at Buffalo.

"It's a great facility," Justina Fetterly, director of communications, said Monday.

The 8,700-square-foot expansion of the elementary school gym was supposed to open last August, at the beginning of the current school year.

"Nothing ever goes as planned with construction," said Fetterly, noting delays in obtaining permits from the Town of Tonawanda, as well as the time it took for equipment to arrive.

In use by students since December, the facility features space for aerobics, Wii Fit games and myriad exercise machines that can connect to the Internet. The grand opening was delayed to ensure the center is 100 percent equipped with signs and equipment, Fetterly said.

"It's now complete, and the students are truly enjoying the new, interactive, fitness-based curriculum," Fetterly said.

The center also will be open for use by parents and staff.

But the focus is on charter school students ages 6 to 17, almost 50 percent of whom are classified as "obese" or "overweight," according to Fetterly.

Tight quarters on the school campus had limited students in kindergarten through eighth grade to 90 minutes of physical education instruction weekly.

Now, all 1,210 students in those grades receive 225 minutes per week of physical education and health-based instruction. That exceeds the state law requirement of 120 minutes per week of physical education and the U.S. Department of Education's recommendation of 150 minutes a week.

Funding for the $1.2 million center included a $100,000 grant from the State University of New York's Charter School Stimulus Fund Grants program.

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