Southold School District

Southold students bust Wii moves during snowy recesses

Southold Elementary School fifth grader Ryan Deerkoski, 12, playing a dance game on Nintendo Wii with his fellow classmates during recess Monday. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson photos)
Southold Elementary School fifth grader Ryan Deerkoski, 12, (right) plays a dance video game on Nintendo Wii with his fellow classmates during recess on Monday. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson photos)

Despite the snow and cold — and a gym that can only accommodate so many students at one time — children at Southold Elementary School haven’t been stuck inside their classrooms during recess.

That’s because the school has been running a Nintendo Wii video game program for the past year inside the cafeteria.

The students gather in front of four 47-inch television screens on a wooden stage set up to play a variety of Wii games like dancing, bowling and snow boarding.

Physical education teacher Peter Salerno, an East Quogue resident who’s worked in the district for 15 years, said he got the program going in Southold last year through a donation from the Southold Athletic Association’s annual 5K and fun run.

In November, the group held its fourth annual event and had nearly 300 people finish the run, Mr. Salerno said.

In addition to the big screen television sets, the school received four Wii consoles, 16 remote controls, and security carts for the devices.

While playing a “Just Dance” game on Monday, 12-year-old Ryan Deerkoski  moved toward the front of the pack while mimicking the dance moves projected on the screen.

“I like playing this when we need to stay inside,” he said between moves. “It’s fun to practice dancing.”

Camryn Koke, 9, also enjoys playing the dance game. When asked what kind of dancing she liked most, Camryn pointed her right hand in the air and placed her left hand on her hip — striking the iconic pose of John John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

“Disco!” Mr. Salerno said with a smile.

“Yes, I like disco moves,” Camryn said. “And dancing to Elvis songs.”

The purpose of the 5k race was to create wellness opportunities inside the school for students, Mr. Salerno said. Proceeds from the race have also been used to fund field days, in which students get to play on water slides, and other summer activities, he said.

Mr. Salerno said his group also decided to come up with other ways to create more chances to encourage students to be active. Last year, he organized the Wii program at Southold since some students had to spend recess inside during inclement weather.

In the past, two sections of a grade would get to use the gym when they couldn’t go outside for recess. The third was then stuck at their desks.

Now that section gets to play Wii instead, Mr. Salerno said.

“The kids really enjoy it,” he said. “Getting the kids up out of their seats was the main goal.”

Scroll down to view more photos by Jennifer Gustavson from Monday’s Wii session: