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Woodland students, staff participate in ‘world’s largest exercise class’

WOODLAND, Maine — All of Woodland Consolidated School set aside 20 minutes on May 1 to go outside and exercise as part of an annual ACES (All Children Exercise Simultaneously) event.

ACES, according to the organization’s official website, is a “signature program of the Youth Fitness Coalition, Inc.,” created by physical education teacher Len Saunders in 1989 “as a method of motivating children to exercise.”

Three decades later, the program is still going strong and now involves “millions of children from all over the world.” According to the organization, the event has been dubbed “the world’s largest exercise class.”

Led by Marie Beckum, this year’s event involved all prekindergarten through eighth grade students line dancing outside the school.

“We had a great time,” said Woodland Consolidated School Principal Susie Schloeman. “We’ve done nature walks in the past. It basically involves anything that gets people exercising and moving, and the teachers get involved as well.”

Schloeman said the ACES event occurs every year on the first Wednesday of May at 10 a.m. and lasts roughly 20 minutes, adding that she has participated in nearly every ACES event.

She also complimented Beckum’s ability to teach such a wide range of ages and students how to perform the dance.

“It’s all about getting outside and moving,” Schloeman said. “We’ve only had to go inside a couple times because of the weather.”

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