OWENSBORO, Ky. — Sorgho Elementary School, Whitesville Elementary School, College View Middle School and Apollo High School have earned 2016 National Healthy Schools Bronze Awards for leading comprehensive health, physical activity and wellness efforts during the 2015-16 school year. They join Highland and Meadow Lands elementary schools and Daviess County Middle School, who were 2015 Bronze Award recipients, in achieving this status; and are among 16 schools in Kentucky being recognized by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Let’s Move Active School for the 2015-16 and 2016-2017 school years.

The Let’s Move! Active School National Award is based on schools’ improvement of nutrition and wellness services and physical activity programs to meet or exceed rigorous standards set by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program, which provides schools with guidance, professional development, access to national experts and evidence-based resources and tools to help them create and sustain healthy school environments.

Schools must meet high standards of achievement in each of seven content areas that address school health improvement: Policy/systems, school meals, competitive foods and beverages, health education, employee wellness, physical education, and student wellness.

“On behalf of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, I would like to congratulate Daviess County Public Schools on having four of the 16 Kentucky schools that are among America’s Healthiest Schools,” said Amanda Green, EDd., who serves as director of the Healthy Schools and Communities Program. “Sorgho Elementary School, Apollo High School, College View Middle School and Whitesville Elementary School are being recognized with National Healthy Schools Bronze Awards and are best-in-class examples of the nationwide movement to create a culture of health in schools. DCPS is leading the way in Kentucky and in the nation.”

DCPS Assistant Superintendent Matt Robbins said all 18 district schools volunteered to participate in the Healthy Schools program, which is part of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, beginning in 2013. Each school established its own wellness committee and developed a plan to meet goals in the seven areas of school health. With the addition of the four schools announced today, DCPS now has a total of seven schools that have earned Bronze Award designation.

“Students and staff have both benefited from the outstanding work of our school-level wellness committees,” Robbins said. “We are also fortunate to have outstanding support from community partners such as Owensboro Health and the community-based Passport Health Plan, who teamed up to provide the GoNoodle program in our classrooms, which encourages physical activity breaks throughout the school day. The hospital provided grant funding to add fitness stations to walking trails at Country Heights and Sorgho elementary schools, and most recently, Whitesville Elementary School received a grant to add Project Fit America equipment in their outdoor and gymnasium fitness areas.”

With four new award recipients, the Daviess County Public Schools district once again leads the state in schools earning the Bronze Award. Over the past two years, seven DCPS schools have been among the 28 Kentucky schools earning recognition. “I am so proud of these schools for the efforts made toward this recognition,” Robbins said. “They have set the bar for our DCPS Healthy Schools Initiative!”

Below is a summary of each school’s areas of achievement and focus on health and wellness; as well as contact information for the key person overseeing the initiative at each school. 

Sorgho Elementary School                                                     
Cliff Jackson, physical education teacher

Sorgho Elementary School was the first school in the nation to be approved as a recipient of both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 National Healthy Schools Bronze Award. Physical education teacher Cliff Jackson said, “Achieving this status would not have been possible without the participation of several key stakeholders who volunteered their time and ideas, which ensured the success of Sorgho’s Healthy School Committee (HSC). Our HSC has made many positive changes to the school’s environment, but two significant changes stand out in my mind. The HSC made it a point to focus on working with the School-Based Decision Making Council to update policies to ensure that students are receiving at least 20 minutes of recess. Another area the HSC focused on was health promotion for the staff. Sorgho’s HSC worked with staff members and members of the community to create an exercise room for SES staff members to use throughout the year. Our HSC also sends out daily e-mails to all staff members that promote healthy eating and exercise. All of this is a tremendous step towards healthier, happier and better lives for all members of the Sorgho family.   We want to express thanks to all who have contributed to this wonderful achievement.”

Sorgho will host a Family Fun Fitness Night from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, to celebrate the award and to encourage parents and children to engage in fitness activities together. The event will feature basketball, volleyball, kickball and soccer, as well as the school’s fitness equipment and healthy snacks. High school and college student-athletes and members of the Kentucky Mavericks basketball team will be there, interacting with students and encouraging those in attendance to adopt healthy and active lifestyles.

Whitesville Elementary School                                            
Janet Farrell, physical education teacher

Whitesville Elementary School committed to ensuring that every student is involved in 20 minutes of movement and physical activity every day. When weather permits, this includes 10 minutes of outdoor play each morning and afternoon. Teachers are also using the GoNoodle program to guide students in fun exercise activities, and the school encourages parents to sign up to use GoNoodle at home to continue building on that foundation of fitness.

WES physical education teacher Janet Farrell said, “Students need to be taught at an early age the importance of exercise and healthy eating, and its impact on overall long-term health. Kids who are active are more likely to be active adults.”

College View Middle School                                                 
Jeff Wethington, assistant principal

“The Let’s Move! Active Schools grant helped our school community become more active throughout the school day,” said CVMS assistant principal Jeff Wethington. “Our staff is taking the extra step to be active role models for the students as well. The school has implemented a walking challenge that encourages everyone to average 80,000 steps per week. Students are rewarded for good grades and behaviors with physical activity opportunities instead of food treats, and the school’s fundraisers have also incorporated physical activities.

“We commend College View Middle School’s model work around enhancing physical education and physical activity opportunities and inspiring students to go from zero to sixty both in the classroom and in life,” said Charlene R. Burgeson, executive director of Let’s Move! Active Schools.  “College View Middle is leading the way in this generation-changing movement that is transforming our nation’s schools into active and healthy hubs.”

Apollo High School                                                    
Holly Johnson, physical education teacher

Apollo High School is one of only four high schools in Kentucky earning this honor and is the only high school in the Daviess County area that has earned Bronze Award status. 

Physical education teacher Holly Johnson said her school has incorporated Wellness Wednesday activities, created fitness challenges for staff members, organized intramural sports activities for students, and sponsored DanceBlue and Fun Run events for students and staff. “All of our physical education classes use FitnessGram benchmarks for students to set goals and know where they rank among peers their age,” Johnson said.

Johnson said there are academic as well as physical benefits for students who are engaged in healthy lifestyles. “It is a well-known fact that healthier kids do better in school with behavior, attendance and grades,” she said. “The Apollo Healthy Schools Program team wants to create a culture where students and staff feel empowered to become healthy role models.” In working toward that goal, AHS is planning a community-wide 5K Spring Fun Run that will be partnered with this year’s DanceBlue event. Staff members also have the opportunity to earn “Apollo Wellness” T-shirts as they record activity minutes throughout the year.

AHS is hosting an Eagle Fest Rally at 2:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7. The school’s Bronze Award status is among achievements to be celebrated at this event.

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