Julia Corbin, a freshman at Mountain Pointe High, studies physical fitness concepts to serve her for life

The physical education program at Mountain Pointe High School was featured recently at a research meeting in Boston.

The research showed that 20 years after graduation, students who took Mountain Pointe’s Fitness for Life class were more active than they were in high school and much more active than typical American adults.

Further, the majority of the former students remember using the textbook for the class and report that they still use information from the text and the class. Nearly all (92.2 percent) considered themselves to be currently well informed about fitness and exercise.

Since Mountain Pointe opened in 1991, Fitness for Life has been offered to ninth graders as part of the physical education program. Students use a text and do classroom activities one day a week.

The study reported in Boston is not the first look at the 1991-92 Mountain Pointe freshmen. They were also studied when they were juniors and seniors in high school.

That research was published in Pediatric Exercise Science and showed that students taking Fitness for Life were less likely to be sedentary than students who took their physical education class elsewhere (transfer students). They were also much more active than a national sample of high school freshmen.  

The 1991-92 freshmen were studied again two years after graduation from Mountain Pointe. The study published in the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport also showed that students taking Fitness for Life were less likely to be sedentary than the control group and were more active than a sample of students from throughout the nation.

Prior to the school’s opening, the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board approved the Fitness for Life program.

Those instrumental in implementing the program were Principal Harold Slemmer, Physical Education Department Chair Karl Kiefer, and Fitness for Life Director Phil Abbadessa.  

The Fitness for Life class at Mountain Pointe continues today under the direction of current Physical Education Department Chair Andrea Fazz.  

“It is encouraging to know that our Fitness for Life program not only benefits our students while they are here at Mountain Pointe, but these benefits continue well after they graduate,” Fazz said.

The program continues to have the strong support of current Principal Bruce Kipper.

“We are committed to preparing students for college, careers, and life and to have the results from three different studies show that the lessons learned in Mountain Pointe PE program are impacting the health of our alumni in a positive way decades down the road. This is certainly good news,” he said.

Henry Yu, a graduate student at Arizona State, was the lead researcher on the 20-year follow-up study and was assisted fellow graduate student Shannon Mulhearn and mentor Dr. Pam Kulinna, also from ASU.  

The study was presented to the Research Council at the national convention of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America).

The research would not have been possible without the assistance of Mountain Pointe graduates who contacted former students and provided class reunion lists.

Those providing essential assistance were Mountain Pointe grads Christine Vanderpool, Sarah Mauel, Danielle Platt, and Shaun Shultz.  Allison Hurtado, who wrote an article on the 20th reunion of the first Mountain Pointe freshman class for the Ahwatukee Foothills News, also provided assistance.

-Ahwatukee resident Chuck Corbin is professor emeritus at Arizona State University. He assisted in implementing the Fitness for Life program at Mountain Pointe and participated in the research.

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