Eighth-grader at Northdale representing Vikings

Northdale Middle School eighth-grader Tim Keran’s name is blazoned across a massive poster that hangs in his school’s lunchroom.

Tim Keran in front of the massive poster in the lunchroom at Northdale Middle School, where he is an eighth-grader.

Tim Keran in front of the massive poster in the lunchroom at Northdale Middle School, where he is an eighth-grader.

“It’s bigger than I am,” he said, posing for a picture in front of it.

Keran is the first to admit that he never expected to be in the limelight. He’s also the first to acknowledge how fun it is.

“It’s really cool,” he said. “And football – I mean, I love the Vikings, and now I’m the team’s Fuel Up to Play 60 State Ambassador.”

The status is pretty exclusive. Only 50 students – one per state – are named as state ambassadors. It’s also a big responsibility, according to Northdale Assistant Principal Julie Klund-Schubert.

“It really is a big deal,” Klund-Schubert said. “He’s a leader not only for our school, but for the state.”

The Play 60 program isn’t new to Northdale. Klund-Schubert said the school’s been a part of the NFL program designed to promote more active and healthier lifestyles, for a few years.

As part of the program, the school also applies for annual $4,000 grants, which the school has received in year’s past.

“It’s provided things for wellness to the school that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to get,” Klund-Schubert said, pointing to pedometers that students used to track how much they were walking and jogging while at school.

But Keran being named a state ambassador – that’s new territory, she said.

“He has some responsibilities, but he’s really tackling them,” Klund-Schubert said. “He’s doing a great job.”

Part of Keran’s role is to set a good example by teaching his peers healthy habits. Earlier this year, he went to school early and exercised with some classmates in the cafeteria while the other students were eating their breakfast. Their goal was to teach their peers to be healthy and make positive choices.

He also has a cadre of classmates who are part of his “team” that help him spread the Play 60 mission.

It all started pretty innocently, Klund-Schubert said. Keran wrote an essay describing why he wanted to be an ambassador, and his plan to promote healthy behaviors in the school.

Klund-Schubert provided the letter of recommendation.

A few weeks later, when he was named state ambassador, Keran said he was shocked. He also realized he had a problem.

“I didn’t even tell my parents I had applied,” he said.

“They didn’t know anything about it until I told them I had won and had to fly to North Carolina for media training. But they were excited. It was OK.”

Yes, he needed media training, which is something that’s come in handy, according to Keran.

Keran has co-hosted one episode of a television show called “Vikings Huddle” – he got to interview wide receiver Joe Webb – and has two more episodes he is slated to be a part of.

“It’s all just a really great experience,” Keran said. He also acknowledged a lot of this could help when it’s time to go to college, but not for studies in journalism or communications.

“I want to be a chemist or marine biologist,” he said. “But this will make a good story for an essay when it’s time to apply.”

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