If you attended Morse school as a student, staff member or parent during the 70’s 80’s or 90’s, certainly you remember Coach Jim Davis. Coach Davis was the Physical Education teacher at Grant D. Morse School until 2000 and during his tenure he was known to be a fitness promoter.
Of course, one of the many endearing qualities of Coach Davis was his consistency. Students and staff could be certain his fitness units would repeat on a yearly basis. Gymnastics, dance and space relationships were hallmarks of his curriculum. When you left Morse, you knew how to control your body, use empty space, perform front roll-overs, and square dance. Along with these great life-skills, students were totally in-tuned to “Chicken Fat.”
In the early years, “Chicken Fat” was played as part of the daily calisthenics routine and later on was part of the dance unit. In any case, Morse students can easily identify the catchy tune created by Robert Preston and Meredith Willson in 1963 for President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy, like Coach Davis, believed in a fit and healthy population. Kennedy created a presidential committee to improve and promote fitness education among its citizens. The “Chicken Fat” program was created for schools and the song was used in classes around the nation. A shorter version of the song was encouraged to be part of radio station playlists around the country.
Coach Davis attended St. Lawrence University located at the northern most point of New York Sate during the late 1960’s and saw value in the “Chicken Fat”
concept. He was able to procure a supply of record albums which would last his entire career. Armed with a record player, his plan book and attendance ledger, Davis brought his magic to Morse.
In the spring of 2015, to commemorate the 50 year of the Morse School, Just Print It Television, JPI TV, produced a full-length video featuring present-day students exercising to this long-forgotten Morse staple. The video contains volunteer students with cameo appearances by the present principal, Mr. Donald Dieckmann, former Instrumental Music Teacher Dennis Jones, Morse’s first principal Patrick Bounfiglio and Davis.