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Elliot Karlan / For The Arl

Del Mar Middle School Principal Alan Vann Gardner, who has been practicing aikido for 38 years, instructs Del Mar sixth-graders Gillian Reynolds (center) and Hannah Collings in the Japanese martial art last month.


Del Mar students learn mindfulness through martial arts, tai chi and yoga


During a recent P.E. class at Del Mar Middle School, a few dozen seventh-graders were something few large groups of children are: quiet.

The class was the students' second of three yoga sessions, and, with the exception of a few scattered chuckles as a student less-than-gracefully transitioned between poses, the group was taking to heart a key lesson from their first class — the importance of focus and silence.

"We're learning how to center ourselves," said student Jackie Halberstadt after the Jan. 27 class ended. "We're learning how to deal with stress."

The yoga instruction is part of an expanded effort to provide an opportunity for Del Mar students to focus on mindfulness as part of the school's physical-education curriculum. While the seventh-graders are learning yoga, the school's sixth-graders practice aikido and eighth-graders learn tai chi.

Middle school can be an especially difficult time for kids, said Del Mar principal Alan Vann Gardner, and aikido, yoga and tai chi can help students develop healthy coping strategies, including learning how to center themselves.

"And when you are centered, you are more able to connect and be present and communicate and deal with stress and conflict," he said.

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Student achievements

Brodie Cohen of Belvedere, son of Laura Cox and Jay Cohen, received the Dean's Award for Academic Excellence from Colgate University, where he is a freshman. The award is reserved for students who earn a GPA of 3.3 or higher.

• Colgate awarded a Dean's Award with Distinction to William Boyd of Tiburon, given to students who earn a GPA of 3.6 or higher. He is a junior majoring in math and mathematical economics.
— Deirdre McCrohan

Is your school or class hosting a special event or project? Do you think a student or teacher deserves special recognition for activities inside or outside the classroom? Let The Ark know by contacting education and youth reporter Jeff Dempsey at

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