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Letter from the Secretary
SD Department of Education Dec. 2015  

8 SD schools earn Healthy Schools Program awards

Earlier this fall, eight schools across South Dakota were honored in Washington, D.C., for their efforts to promote healthy living. Congratulations to these schools for encouraging physical activity and healthy eating among students, staff and families!

Click on the links below for highlights of each school’s strategies for eating healthier and moving more:

   • Beresford Elementary – Bronze
   • Black Hawk Elementary (Rapid City Area School District) – Bronze
   • Brandon Elementary (Brandon Valley School District) – Bronze
   • Buchanan Kindergarten Center (Huron School District) – Bronze
   • Georgia Morse Middle School (Pierre School District) – Bronze
   • Jefferson Elementary (Huron School District) – Bronze
   • Jefferson Elementary (Pierre School District) – Bronze
   • Knollwood Heights Elementary (Rapid City Area School District) – Bronze

Visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s website to join the Healthy Schools Program and access a wealth of resources to create a healthier school environment. Contact Kari Senger with questions.

Beresford Elementary
At Beresford Elementary, some students are on the move even while sitting at their desks. The school integrated kinesthetic learning desks into its 3rd and 4th grade classrooms, so students can complete their assignments and keep their legs moving at the same time.

The school schedule also includes recess and an afterschool program filled with physical activity options. Staff can boost their physical activity by participating in a faculty fitness program before and after school.

To promote healthy eating, food service staff overhauled the lunch menu to meet federal nutrition guidelines and replaced unhealthy snacks in the school’s vending machines with healthier alternatives.

Black Hawk Elementary (Rapid City Area School District)
At Black Hawk Elementary, many teachers and students share a common goal: completing 100 miles of walking or jogging by the end of the school year. For every 25 miles completed by a participant, he or she receives a special t-shirt to wear with pride on Miler Mondays.

The morning announcements include a student-organized nutrition lesson plus a “Jammin’ Minute” of physical activity. Teachers are also encouraged to incorporate at least 10 minutes of movement into their daily lesson plans.

The school’s wellness efforts extend to the community as well. The school hosted a 3K walk for all Black Hawk families and planned physical activity events for staff.

“We have created a culture where health and wellness are valued in the educational process. It is no longer just the physical education teachers’ job to get the kids moving. The principal, classroom teachers and community now understand healthy students are better learners,” said physical education teacher Tari Phares.

Brandon Elementary (Brandon Valley School District)
Many children regularly ride their bikes to Brandon Elementary, and students get moving when teachers use “Jammin’ Minute” physical activity breaks. The school offers a variety of physical activity options during recess, including martial arts.

Staff can participate in a month-long physical activity challenge. They can also take advantage of stress management seminars and health screenings.

To promote healthy eating, the school has aligned all foods sold outside the school meals program with the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School standards. The school offers a healthy snack break during the school day as well.

Parents are encouraged to send non-food items to school for classroom parties and birthday celebrations, and students learn how to create nutritious meals based on the USDA MyPlate recommendations in health classes.

Buchanan Kindergarten Center (Huron School District)
Every day at Buchanan Kindergarten Center begins with a “Jammin’ Minute” to get students energized and focused before class begins. Many students also run or walk laps before class.

Staff members are getting involved in encouraging students to practice healthy eating habits throughout the day. The school nurse, for example, teaches a weekly health lesson, and district high school students organized a health fair for the children. As a result of these efforts, students are more aware of healthy eating options and have had the opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables.

Staff wellness has become a top priority at Buchanan as well. Staff members can take part in a physical activity challenge and are encouraged to wear pedometers to increase their daily steps.

Georgia Morse Middle School (Pierre School District)
In the Georgia Morse Middle School cafeteria, all food options align with federal standards for meals, and the school has added a vending machine stocked with nutritious USDA Smart Snack items. The school has also provided several classrooms new smoothie blenders so students can test out healthy recipes.

Physical activity is also a priority at Georgia Morse, where students and staff enjoy access to new fitness equipment. The school offers a wellness calendar full of physical activity ideas and inspiration for staff. Physical education is provided every other day to all grades. An active Healthy Alliance Committee has implemented many new activities in the past few years.

“We are continuing to change the climate of our school to a healthier and more positive place,” said principal Kyley Cumbow.

Jefferson Elementary (Huron School District)
Students at Jefferson Elementary in Huron are moving more all day long. The school starts the day with exercise led over the loudspeaker. A “Jammin’ Minute” is intended to get kids focused and ready to learn. Teachers keep kids moving during the day with brain breaks. To get students moving more, the school wellness team developed a walking challenge that students could participate in during recess and after school.

“I see the impact we’re having when a student comes back to tell me her family exercised together,” said school nurse Rita Baszler.

The school’s wellness team was also instrumental in getting the administration to add the following language to the school’s handbook: “Physical education minutes cannot be withheld as a punishment at school.”

Jefferson Elementary School (Pierre School District)
Before classes begin at Jefferson Elementary in Pierre, students enjoy extra time for physical activity and can grab a healthy breakfast.

After school, some staff members take walks together, and many female students participate in a popular Girls on the Run program. The school also created a Boost Up classroom equipped with multiple physical activity stations for students.

To encourage more physical activity among staff, many faculty meetings conclude with a friendly game of volleyball or jogging some laps outside.

Students enjoy healthy meals in the cafeteria, and all foods and beverages sold outside of the school meals program align with the USDA Smart Snacks in School standards. The school also implemented a Harvest of the Month program to introduce students to new fruits and vegetables.

“The Healthy Schools Program has shown us that school wellness should be talked about more and emphasized,” said physical education teacher Jim Keyes.

Knollwood Heights Elementary (Rapid City Area School District)
At Knollwood Heights Elementary, each Wednesday is Wellness Wednesday, with an opportunity for students and staff to experience new physical activities.

“I look forward to Wellness Wednesdays. It is a great time to have fun with our students while doing something physical,” said 1st grade teacher Mallory Spoelstra.

In addition to Wellness Wednesdays, the school encourages students to get moving with a popular running club and an additional 10 minutes of recess time. Some staff walk together after school. Staff can also participate in a fitness challenge and receive tips for healthy living via e-mail.

Students and staff alike enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables during snack time, and candy rewards have been removed from most classrooms. To help encourage students to practice healthy habits at home, the school hosted a family night, where students and parents completed three fitness stations that culminated in a free, nutritious meal.

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