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Middle schoolers guzzle milk to get Falcons visit
Students also get pep rally right after field day
Atlanta Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton smiles Friday as C.W. Davis Middle School sixth-graders react to answering a question correctly during a game as part of a pep rally. Students won the pep rally with Lofton and Falcons cheerleaders by increasing their milk consumption as part of the Fuel Up Like a Champion Contest. The contest is a national partnership between the National Football League, the National Dairy Council and the U.S. Dairy Association to combat childhood obesity. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Chris Gibbs' feet danced across three decades as he seamlessly transitioned from one move to another on the cafeteria floor.

Beginning with a reverse MC Hammer moonwalk, the C.W. Davis sixth-grader transitioned to crisscrossing his hands over his knees like Tina Turner, and concluded by brushing some dirt off his shoulder.

Performing in front of his entire grade in the middle school's cafeteria on Friday, Gibbs' two-minute dance was part of a pep rally that included Atlanta Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton.

The school won the pep rally by increasing its milk consumption the most, by 600 cartons a month, in the Fuel Up Like a Champion Contest.

Part of a health and wellness campaign by the Southeast Dairy Association and the Falcons, the contest encourages kids to eat better and get more exercise. The campaign is a component of a national initiative, Fuel Up and Play 60, which combats childhood obesity.

"Kids are too young to be going through that," Lofton said. "This teaches them to eat healthy and better themselves."

For winning the contest, the school received a special visit by a longtime dairy farmer, two Falcons cheerleaders and Lofton.

Dancing was fun for Chris, but meeting Lofton was even better. A Falcons fan since birth, he left the hospital wrapped in a team blanket.

"I look up to him a lot," Chris, 12, said. "Me and my dad are big Falcons fans."

The pep rally came right after field day. The kids were full of energy and excitement as they watched Lofton quiz two teams of their peers on half a dozen questions related to healthy eating and exercise.

In one question, the students had to guess how long it would take them dance off the amount of calories in a large order of french fries. Was it five minutes, 30 minutes or 2 1/2 hours?

Both teams answered correctly: 2 1/2 hours.

"I guess I won't be eating any more french fries, especially while dancing," Lofton said after learning the answer.

At the end of the question-and-answer round, the Black team was ahead of the Red team by just 50 points. But when it came down to the dance segment, there was no competition.

Deafening cheers from 400 sixth-graders clearly indicated that Chris was the winner. His victory resulted in a tie between the two teams participating in the game.

Chris said that milk helped him show his stuff on the dance floor.

"I drink it at home. My dad always tells me it will help my bones," he said. "It gives you energy so you have more enthusiasm to entertain the crowd."

Georgia dairy farmer Jerry Truelove said that his industry has promoted childhood wellness for years. With the National Football League on board, he hopes they can encourage kids to start making healthy food and drink choices, such as milk, early.

"By working with kids and helping them, we're hoping it will make them milk drinkers for life," he said.

The Davis Middle administration credits the school's cafeteria and nutrition staff, as well as the physical education department, for helping kids improve their physical health. Helping them eat better and get exercise makes them better students, and ultimately better citizens.

"We realize how important it is, not only academically but in all aspects of life," Principal Eddie Millwood said.