Ravens make a pitch for fitness at Stoneleigh

Students and teachers of Stoneleigh Elementary School in Towson are spending the year at the former Carver Center for the Arts and Technology building to allow for an addition at their regular schoolhouse.

But after an hour with the Ravens on Tuesday morning, Nov. 27, they might need to find yet another home — the excitement was through the roof.

The school's 700 students began cheering in anticipation of the players' arrival long before they got there, and continued throughout the hour-long visit, which the school earned after being named as the ravens' 2012 NFL Play 60 Super School.

Ravens running back Ray Rice, fullback Vonta Leach, offensive linemen Gino Gradkowski and Bryant McKinnie, safety James Ihedibo, and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo visited the school on their off day, and soaked up the student's adulation.

Players were loose and excited, frequently pumping up the players as their teachers tried to eventually quiet them for the assembly.

And when they weren't taking photos and videos of the raucous crowd, the players extolled the virtues of an hour of exercise each day — which compounded with healthy eating, can help end childhood obesity, they said.

"I've been doing NFL Play 60 for 10 years, and I have to say Stoneleigh might be the most excited, well-behaved and energetic school I've ever been to." Ayanbadejo said.

And Rice, wearing the sash of the school's Safeties and Crossing Guards, reminded them that after exercise, healthy eating, schoolwork and respecting their parents, there's always a little time for Xbox.

Stoneleigh was awarded the $10,000 grant from the NFL earlier this month after a long negotiation with Baltimore County Public Schools.

PTA Health and Wellness Chair Aimee Freeman applied for the grant as part of the school's "Green School" initiative, which focuses on being healthy inside to create a healthy environment outside.

But BCPS rules stipulate all grants need to be approved and have oversight, so the grant was accepted by the BCPS Foundation — represented by Debbie Phelps on Tuesday — with the designation that it be used for health and wellness activities at Stoneleigh.

"Today is a day about respect and gratitude," Stoneleigh Principal Christine Warner said.

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