Students from the Independence School District were 600 pounds lighter when they returned Friday from the spring semester at a weight-loss boarding school in South Carolina.
That amount brings the Independence students' total weight loss for the school year to 1,342 pounds. This is the first year that the Independence district has sent students to MindStream Academy in the southern South Carolina town of Bluffton.
Twelve students completed the first semester at the school. Of those students, nine returned for the spring semester and were joined by six new students.
Aspiring Marine Jason Alexander was the biggest loser, shedding 154 pounds over two semesters.
Overjoyed parents and students reunited at Kansas City International Airport. Some parents were stunned by the physical transformation in their children.
Students learned about nutrition and worked out hard.
Malik Hart was one of the students. His mother Tammy Orie was overjoyed to see her slimmer son.
It was tough, but well worth it, Malik said.
"There were some times where I just wanted to come home, right at that moment. And sometimes I wanted to stay a lot more," he said. "But I fought through it, and got through it, and now I look like brand new! Yeaaahh!"
The separation was tough on Orie and other parents.
"It's been really rocky, really rocky, but he stayed in touch with me," she said. "We talked several times throughout the week. And his teachers down at MindStream stayed in contact with me."
Funding for the $28,500-per-semester tuition came from the school district, donors, the students' families and a foundation associated with the academy.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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