morning exercise before schoolThe Centers for Disease Controls (CDC) states, “…physical activity can have an impact on cognitive skills and attitudes and academic behavior, all of which are important components of improved academic performance. These include enhanced concentration and attention as well as improved classroom behavior.” The CDC research paper can be found here

Exercise directly impacts the behavior and development of the brain. “It is likely that the effects of physical activity on cognition would be particularly important in the highly plastic developing brains of youth,” according to a 2010 essay by Charles Basch of Columbia University.

He summarized how exercise may affect executive functioning:

  • Increased oxygen flow to the brain
  • Increased brain neurotransmitters
  • “[Increased] brain-derived neurotrophins that support neuronal differentiation and survival in the developing brain.” Neurotrophins assure the survival of neurons in areas responsible for learning, memory, and higher thinking.

This year, The Leelanau School added regular morning exercise before school begins.  It is called Morning Energize, and so far it is getting rave reviews from faculty and students.  Becca Dymond, who is the Coordinator of Personal Growth and Development, explained why The Leelanau School decided to insert this into their day.

“Morning Energize is our answer to the compelling research proving the connection between movement and enhanced learning. Many teenagers, and adults for that matter, struggle to have an alert, energetic transition into the day.

Morning energize allows us 30 minutes to be active and have fun before the rigors of the day begin. The activities are not meant to be strenuous. The options range from yoga, to walking, juggling, or fun group games.  Every Friday we do something as a whole school to build some spirit and positivity before the weekend,“ Dymond said.

Michael Lanuzza, senior, said that before coming to The Leelanau School, he remembers having to get up at 6 a.m. to catch a bus and then sleeping through his classes.   He says he likes Morning Energize because he has more energy and can pay better attention in his classes.  

“I used to be groggy in the morning, and sometimes fall asleep, but now I feel like I can pay attention in class. I like the variety of activities and typically play games like Ultimate Frisbee and games where you try to keep a balloon in the air,” Michael said. 

Becca said, “It is exciting to be part of a community where we can learn about something new, decide on its importance, and figure out a way to try it.“

Another added benefit, according to Michael, “It is great to see the whole school interacting, having fun and getting along with each other.  It gives you a chance to make new friends.”

Learn more about The Leelanau School’s Health & Wellness program

We are excited to share all our news and events with our alumni, parents, donors and friends.  Our newest LeelaNews should be hitting your mailbox in the next several days.  If you don’t receive it and would like to, please email and we will put you on our mailing list.

Click this link to read online.

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October is ADHD Awareness Month. Dean Dauphinais, father of a 2014 Leelanau graduate, has had his blog about how our school transformed his son’s educational path chosen as one of the “Best Blog Posts on ADHD” for 2014. It’s number 12 on the page at the link below. If you click on the link to Dean’s blog at that page, it will take you his piece at the Huffington Post website. Feel free to leave comments about Leelanau in the comments section following the blog.

“To our delight, between our son’s sophomore and junior years we found a little jewel of a boarding school that actually specializes in teaching kids with ADHD, ADD, dyslexia and other learning differences. A strength-based, experiential high school that offered what we thought would be the perfect alternative learning environment for our son. While we were driving home after touring the school, our son stated so eloquently: “I think this school could change my life.”

And change his life it did.

Our son went from feeling “lost” in school to feeling welcome. From getting poor grades to getting excellent grades. And from not wanting to go to school at all to absolutely loving it. He blossomed into that student we knew he could be, developed lifelong friendships with fellow students from around the world, and did things he never would’ve done in public school, like performing in plays; playing music and singing in front of crowds; writing songs; and performing slam poetry for his senior project. He even dyed his hair blue at one point.”

I wish for a day I could be in high school again, and be on that campus!!! Best school and best place on earth!!   Bevan Gottlieb (from Facebook)


We used to make cinnamon butter toasts on the way to Mr Wheeler’s senior English class until the chef started locking the cafeteria during class periods. I was reminded by the toaster station in the pix.  Jacob Jung Sung (from Facebook)


I recently graduated from the Leelanau School on June 12th 2014. This school changed my life. I started here lost and in another place, but I left it more grown up. I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t like being in a boarding school but it changed my life, it made me become way more confident than I was before. I met a variety of people and really built a bond among a few good friends and really bonded with the faculty and staff. Raoul Vardhan (from Facebook)


What a beautiful place to attend school! Love Mom Gail Dressell (from Facebook)