Andover Hosts Virtual Race To Lebanon, Kansas

Phillips Academy faculty and staff will begin calculating their aerobic exercise in order to win a virtual race across the United States as the annual fall fitness activity organized by the Human Resources Office. In the virtual race, five teams, each led by a faculty member, will begin in different locations across the United States. Each participant will use a pedometer to record his or her steps in the simulated race to Lebanon, Kansas, the geographical center of the country, and back to Phillips Academy. Whichever team logs 1,200 miles, or 2,400,000 steps, of aerobic physical activity, such as walking, running, swimming, biking, and rollerblading, wins the competition. Maureen Ferris, the Director of Human Resources, said that the Human Resources Office organizes fitness events annually to motivate members of the faculty to incorporate exercise in their daily routine. “We are working to encourage healthy habits,” Ferris said in an email. The captains of the race teams include Temba Maqubela, Director of Faculty, starting in Pensacola, Florida, Tom Conlon, Director of Public Safety, in Boise, Idaho, Heather Thomson, Senior Manager for Operations & Maintenance at OPP, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Becky Sykes, Associate Head of School, in Buffalo, New York, and Steve Carter, Chief Operating and Financial Officer, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “Individuals representing various departments were invited to serve as team captains to ensure that we had representation across the faculty and staff,” Ferris wrote in an email. Stephanie Donavan, Human Resources specialist, organized the race as this year’s fall fitness program for and will record the results weekly. As the race coordinator, she will track progress and announce “the winner of the week,” said Donavan in an email to the team captains. Each team elects a record keeper who forwards team scores to Donavan. The virtual activity was announced at a faculty and staff meeting on September 28. Faculty and staff could form a team of their choice. Ferris said that there were even numbers of faculty members on each team to ensure a fair competition. Team captains are expected to cheer on teammates and urge them to engage in more physical activities. “Having a team and working with other people to compare our numbers everyday on something positive will be very fun, and our team hopes [that] we can improve its image through this race as well,” said Sykes. Sykes said that she recruited other faculty members to join her team. “I am excited that we are getting a lot of people to volunteer and the people who are participating are really active and it will be interesting to see who can pull this off,” said Conlon. Conlon said that he wanted to be a team captain because he enjoys exercising. “Exercise is a part of my daily life. I bike ten miles to work everyday,” said Conlon. The race will end on December 2. The Human Resources Office organized similar fall fitness activities in the past for faculty members. Ferris said that last year, Phillips Academy and five other New England prep schools participated in a competition called “A Brand New U,” an eight-week fitness campaign that helped faculty members set goals to improve their fitness level and use a tracking system to ensure they were achieving those goals. “The program offered participants time to focus on themselves, to make healthy choices and to find a ‘Brand New U,’” said Ferris. Two years ago, the office initiated the 10K-a-Day program that encouraged employees to take 10,000 steps each day. The Human Resources office has also been providing its annual flu shots, Employee Assistance Program, and workshops and web seminars for employees on health related topics.