News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, May 27, 2021
DISES wins $100,000 grant for fitness center
‘Gift of wellness’ to benefit community, principal says

by Leslie Landrigan

The Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School has received a $100,000 grant for a fitness center from the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils.

Gov. Janet Mills and fitness icon Jake (Body by Jake) Steinfeld, the Council’s chair, announced on May 25 that DISES is one of three Maine schools to get a new fitness center.

The fitness center equipment will go into a room adjoining the gym and should be ready in October, said Tara McKechnie, elementary school principal. She said the fitness center will be available to the community.

“We don’t just want it for 8- to 12-year-olds,” McKechnie said in a phone interview. “We have to figure out how we can supervise it and make sure it’s safe.” The fitness center would be free for community users, she said.

McKechnie said the school received an application in February and had a seven-week deadline. The team that filled out the application included John Lincoln, Reach Performing Arts director; Dana McGraw, physical education teacher; Kelsey Winslow, occupational therapist; Tasha Brown, kindergarten teacher; and McKechnie.

The team’s message: “We’re from Maine, the winter is long, and it’s hard when weather doesn’t let you get outside,” McKechnie said.

The team was told they were finalists but had to answer some questions on a video call. “We were nervous and waiting for questions for the interview, then Jake Steinfeld came on and said, ‘You won.’”

“We’re pretty excited,” McKechnie said. “I’m sure we can come up and be creative and make sure this is a whole community win,” said McKechnie.