Students at Highlands Middle School will work out in an updated gym thanks to a grant from the Highmark Foundation.

The district is expected to receive $7,300 to help replace outdated equipment and upgrade facilities.

“We encounter many challenges daily when conducting our lifelong physical education and wellness classes with limited facilities and space,” said Assistant Superintendent Cathleen Cubelic.

“We currently have a gymnasium with limited space pending bleacher repairs. The current state of our fitness/wrestling storage room is not conducive to accommodating a roster larger than 10 students.

“Also, most of the equipment is not age appropriate.”

Highlands is among several schools in the Alle-Kiski Valley to receive grants from the Highmark Foundation.

A total of 81 schools in Pennsylvania and West Virginia were among those the foundation announced Tuesday would get a $454,400 share of its school grants and awards program.

Public, private, parochial, charter and vocational high schools in both states were eligible to apply. The foundation received over 180 requests totaling over $770,000 in requests.

Now in its 10th year, the program has awarded more than $3.8 million to help bring about healthy change in schools in the foundation’s service region.

“Schools are where the health, safety, education and general well-being of students take place,” said Highmark Foundation President Yvonne Cook. “Our student-focused grant program provides schools with the resources to create healthier and safer school environments.”

Of the 81 grants, 51 totaling $300,300 went to schools in western Pennsylvania.

The Alle-Kiski Valley schools receiving funds and the programs the grants will support are:

• Fox Chapel Area School District: $7,100, Raising Expectations Daily.

• Highlands School District: $7,300, Rams Fit Club.

• Kiski Area High School: $7,300, Lunch and Learn Fitness Club.

• Roy A. Hunt Elementary, New Kensington-Arnold School District: $2,700, positive behavioral interventions and supports.

Hunt’s program was rolled out to Arnold Elementary School earlier this year. By emphasizing prevention rather than punishment, it aims to teach and reinforce good behavior in students.

At Highlands, Cubelic said the grant will provide free continuing education fitness certification training by Advantage Fitness for district college health and wellness staff.

She said the school will use improved facilities to further promote the goal of lifelong wellness through a Rams Fit Club which will be a before or after school program open to all fifth graders. in eighth grade.

The program will provide students with lessons in spiritual, physical and emotional health, Cubelic said. Topics will include goal setting, healthy weight management, disease prevention, peer acceptance, stress management and relationship building.

The full list of grant recipients is available at highmarkfoundation.org.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .