March 29, 2023

Fourth graders crush squat challenge

For the second year in a row, Clarke fourth graders have placed in the Hy-Vee KidsFit Squat Challenge’s top ten classrooms, with two classes this year earning their place in the top two.

The challenge

The mission of KidsFit is “empowering children to take control of their health by making resources accessible to all parents, teachers and role models,” and each month a different challenge is available for classrooms registered in the KidsFit program. February’s challenge was squats, an annual challenge, which takes aim at building healthy classroom habits.

The challenge is simple enough: classrooms choose five different days during the month of February, and set a goal of how many squats they will do that day. They had until Feb. 24 to submit their totals to KidsFit, and then the wait was on to learn if they won or not.

KidsFit had a goal of reaching 4-million squats across all participating schools and classrooms, and two classes at Clarke stepped up to the challenge - Mrs. Caitlin Crook’s and Ms. Brenda Bussanmas’.


On March 3, the students at Clarke Elementary were preparing for a mid-morning assembly to celebrate reading at the end of Dr. Seuss week. What most of the school didn’t know, however, was that shortly before the assembly began, Daira Driftmier, director of Hy-Vee KidsFit and local Osceola Hy-Vee store managers arrived at the school to visit the classrooms of Crook and Bussanmas.

Their first stop was to Crook’s room, to let she and her students know that out of 650 participating schools, they had completed the most squats for first place, with a total of 140,522.

A visit next door to Bussanmas’ class revealed that they had placed second with 136,452 squats; last year, Bussanmas’ class had placed eighth overall.

Clarke Elementary was the top performing school this year.

As the two classrooms donned their new, all-star KidsFit t-shirts, the rest of the elementary and staff assembled in they gymnasium. Once settled in and it was announced that they were not there to celebrate reading (not that day, anyway), Driftmier lead the school in cheering in the two winning classrooms.


After Driftmier commended the fourth-graders and their teachers for their hard work and dedication to the squat challenge, she told everyone what all prizes had been won for the school in addition to the assembly:

• A bench for an outdoor classroom that will have Crook’s name and year of on it

• 150 packets of seeds for Earth Day to plant around the school

• Bottles of water, flavor packets, fresh fruit, snacks and gummies supplied by Osceola Hy-Vee

• KidsFit totes

• Prizes for the school’s ‘Spinner Winner Wheel’

• Calendars with different monthly challenges were also available for classrooms.

“They got stronger, they got smart and became a better team in their classroom…[it’s a] really big, special day,” said Driftmier of the winning fourth-graders.

To end the assembly, the two classes demonstrated how to properly do a squat, and then led their school in a set of ten. Both teachers plan to do the challenge again next year, with a goal to do even more squats.

Candra Brooks

A native of rural Union County, Candra holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simpson College and an Associate's Degree in Accounting from SWCC. She has been at the Osceola newspaper since October 2013, working as office manager before transitioning to the newsroom in spring 2022.