The seventh grade class at St. Jerome Regional School, Tamaqua, took its turn in the Lion's Den.

The fifth day of each month is now designated as Highmark Healthy High 5 Fitness Day at the school, during which the students get a chance to utilize interactive exercise equipment.

The back of the St. Jerome Parish Annex, which houses the preschool and kindergarten programs, has been converted into the new fitness center. The building formerly housed The Salvation Army's gymnasium, which makes its current use even more appropriate.

Last year St. Jerome Regional School received a $10,000 Highmark Healthy High 5 grant to implement a fitness center aimed at providing the students with the tools and practices to begin and maintain a healthy, active, lifestyle and to make the right choices regarding nutrition and physical activity.

Throughout the spring, the gym in the annex building was converted into the fitness center. Equipment includes stationary bikes, Nordic Track treadmills, ellipticals, PC gaming bikes, AB loungers, and TVs with wii games.

The Lion's Den name come from the lion mascot of the school's athletic teams. A lion has been painted onto the wall of the fitness center.

Highmark Healthy High 5 Fitness Days began with the opening of school last month, and each class in the school gets the opportunity to work out on the equipment for a period. The den is also used by physical education classes.

Since 2007, the Highmark Foundation, through the Highmark Healthy High 5 School Challenge, has awarded a total of $3.5 million in grants to 496 schools in 47 counties across Pennsylvania for programs that address bullying prevention and self-esteem, improve nutrition education, enhance nutrition choices and provide opportunities for physical activity.

"We recognize the importance of providing our students with the resources that will encourage them to adopt healthy habits," said Mrs. Mary Ann Mansell, principal of St. Jerome Regional School. "This grant will allow us to provide children with regular exercise in a fun way with direct supervision, assessment and evaluation."

"It has been a great addition to our physical education programs," said Alice Miller, a teacher at the school. "The students really enjoy it and look forward to coming over here to work out."