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Students take break from TV, screens for 10 days

TV and computer screens will be dark in the homes of many local school students this coming week.

The Ellsworth School District is promoting a TV/Screen Turn-Off Time now through Thursday, Nov. 16, as part of its implementation of a Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (SMART) curriculum. The event is scheduled just before statewide exams, as the curriculum is being adopted in the belief a child's academic performance will increase after detoxification from screen exposure.

Participants are pledging not to watch TV, videotapes, DVDs or play video or computer games for the 10 days. Students keep a log of their successful days and turn this record, signed by parents, into their teacher.

Alternative activities have been planned at each of the schools. They include:

-- Open gym at the high school from 5:30 to 7 p.m. this Thursday. Middle and high school students will experience a night of fun and adventure while participating in some healthy competition. Parents are welcome.

--Foursquare Fun Night this Thursday from 6-7:30 p.m. at Lindgren Elementary School. Students will exercise their minds and bodies, be treated to nutritious snacks, and have fun with friends and family. There will be four continuous games of foursquare in the school's gym, one for beginners, two intermediate and one advanced court. Board games in a classroom will be another option.

-- Sunnyside tug-o-war this Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Sunnyside Elementary School, sponsored by the school's parents club. A tug-o-war contest and relay race between multi-aged teams will be staged. A healthy snack will be served afterward. Parents are welcome.

-- Sock Hop in the auditorium of the Ames Business Center (former junior high school) this Friday from 7-9 p.m. Poodle skirts and slicked-back hair are welcome. Organizers will collect canned goods for the food pantry. There will be limbo and dance contests for prizes.

-- Fun at the Skate Park this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for middle and high school students at River Falls Skate Park in Hoffman Park. Participants should bring roller blades or skateboards and helmets. The concession stand will be available. Proceeds will go toward the prizes for the TV Turn-Off.

-- Family Reading Night at Hillcrest Elementary School next Tuesday from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Brenda Ehrmantraut, the author of "I Want One Too" and "Night Catch," will present a 60-minute program for the entire family. Afterward, attendees may choose to purchase either of her books.

-- Prairie View Activity Night next Tuesday and Thursday, Nov. 16, from 4:15 to 7:45 p.m. at Prairie View Elementary School. Board games and snacks will be available during parent-teacher conferences.

Additionally, incentives for participation in the 10-day event have been announced at the elementary, middle and high school levels. They include: free family pool pass for the 10 days for all participants; daily classroom drawings; drawing at the end of the 10 days for larger prizes; and students who successfully turn off the TV for all 10 days get a Panthers t-shirt (elementary level), drawing for 100 Panthers t-shirts (middle school level), drawing for 50 Panthers t-shirts (high school level). For elementary students, prizes and certificates will be given to every student who participates.