Massachusetts School Wellness Award Honors Healthy Schools
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (ESE, DPH) would like to congratulate the following recipients of the third annual Massachusetts School Wellness Award! These award winning schools have shown a strong commitment to the health of their students and staff and we commend them for their outstanding achievement in:
- School Health Policies
- Health Education
- Physical Education
- Physical Activity
- Staff Wellness
- Tobacco Prevention
All winning schools will be presented with a Massachusetts School Wellness Award banner at the MA Association of School Committees (MASC) and MA Association of School Superintendents (MASS) Annual Joint Conference on November 7, 2012 in Hyannis. The schools were also awarded a wide range of materials to support their school wellness programs and activities.
For more information on the award, contact Carol Goodenow, ESE Coordinated School Health Director (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Laura York, DPH Coordinated School Health Director (Laura.York@state.ma.us).
2012 Massachusetts School Wellness Award Winners
Estabrook Elementary School, Lexington
South High Community School, Worcester
- Every May, the Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington hosts the “Run of the Mill 5k” and “Jim Banks Kids Fun Run.” The event promotes the idea of running together as a family and a school and attracts over 250 participants from the community. The Kids Run, where children ages 3 to 12 run laps at the school according to age, is held prior to the 5k and then everyone is invited to stay for a post race picnic. Medals and items such as water and headbands are provided by local vendors. On the following day, a large poster is hung in the school highlighting the Estabrook students and staff who ran. The race has also motivated many teachers to start taking weekly walks or runs together after school.
- South High Community School in Worcester conducts a Hunger Awareness Week every year where students learn about hunger in all classes such as reading hunger literature in English class, using hunger statistics in math class, and learning about the biological effects of hunger from visiting doctors and dieticians in science class. The school chorus and band also develop a melody of songs focused on helping each other and present the songs to faculty during a lunch prepared by South food service students. During Hunger Awareness Week in 2010, students began discussing hunger in their own families and school staff realized they needed to address this challenge for their students. The South High Food Pantry was started and continues to serve 85 students and their families weekly. Food for the pantry is donated by faculty and community agencies. Additionally, all grade 9 students plant and harvest vegetables at a local farm that grows food for local food pantries.
2011 Massachusetts School Wellness Award Winners
- Bridge Elementary School, Lexington
- Foxborough Regional Charter School
- Everett High School, Everett
- Kennedy Elementary School, Brockton
- North Intermediate School, Wilmington
- West Intermediate School, Wilmington
- The Foxborough Regional Charter School celebrates MCAS by holding a "prep" rally for students immediately before the initial testing week. As studies have shown a link between physical activity and academic achievement, the students compete against each other in active obstacle course races and academic challenge quizzes. The rally includes a competition between student teams in grades 3, 4, and 5 as well as a staff team of teachers. The grade-level winners receive extra recess time and a non-dress code day. Additionally, the school opens the gymnasium to students and families every Saturday morning and a physical education teacher works with participants to improve their health and fitness.
- The Bridge Elementary School in Lexington offers a series of classes called "Kids Cooking Green" which introduces 5th and 6th grade students to the importance of eating locally grown, nutritious food. The classes are held after school and emphasize starting from scratch, including planting seeds in the school garden, harvesting the plants, and preparing healthy food items in the school cafeteria. Local farmers, nutritionists and chefs are invited to the classes to help with the teaching. The series culminates with a food celebration where students display their new knowledge to their families. The program has been such as success that it is now being used by four other elementary schools in Lexington.
- At the Kennedy School in Brockton, 130 parents and students participated in the school's annual Family Health Night which highlights healthy eating and physical activity. Parents and children attended an educational cooking class featuring food choices that can be easily replicated at home. In the gym, they joined in fun movement activities facilitated by the physical education teacher. Information on local youth programs and healthy snack recipes were also provided in take home bags.
- The West Intermediate School in Wilmington worked to switch the recess schedule for grade 5 students so that they would go out for recess prior to eating lunch. Since that time, students have been observed as more settled and they are eating more of their lunch and wasting less food. Teaching staff have noticed that students are more attentive and quicker to get back to work when they return to class. Additionally, data from school nurse office visits indicate a significant decrease in illness visits for complaint of headaches and stomachaches.
- The North Intermediate School in Wilmington offers weekly health information to students and staff through morning announcements. "Physically Fit Fridays" with School Nurse Ferrara promotes a variety of physical fitness and nutrition topics in a format that is informative yet humorous and has captured the attention of students, staff, and families.
- Everett High School built a well-equipped fitness center that is open to all faculty and students during the school day as well as after school. An average of 70 students use the center after school on a daily basis. Students and staff are also invited to attend Boot Camp sessions that are led by faculty members and the school partners with a local recreation center to offer a wide array of physical fitness programs including kickboxing, Zumba, and yoga.
Massachusetts School Wellness Award Winners for 2010
- Codman Academy Charter High School, Boston
- Maria Hastings Elementary School, Lexington
- Lexington High School
Some highlights of these schools' wellness initiatives can be found in the 2010 Massachusetts School Wellness Award Announcement (PDF) .