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Area schools score national health honors

POSTED: October 2, 2013 5:35 p.m.

Eight Hall County schools have been recognized nationally for transforming into healthier environments for students and staff alike.

“Out of 16 schools recognized from the state of Georgia, eight of them are in Hall County,” said Jacob Weiers, wellness coordinator with the school system.

Spout Springs School of Enrichment was the only Georgia school to receive the silver award.

“I’m just extremely proud of our team,” said Spout Springs Principal Steven McDaniel. “It’s been very rewarding to see the changes that have taken place over the past couple of years.”

The remaining schools earned bronze: Chestatee Academy of Inquiry and Talent Development, East Hall Middle School, Flowery Branch Elementary School, North Hall Middle School, Sardis Enrichment School, South Hall Middle School and Sugar Hill Elementary School.

The Hall schools were eight of 267 across the country to receive awards.

“I will just say that we’re very proud of the efforts made to increase physical activity and nutrition education for our students in Hall County,” Weiers said. “And that we’re very proud of the emphasis and the dedication of our staff, our wellness champions, to affect the overall health and wellness of our students.”

Superintendent Will Schofield echoed Weiers’ thoughts.

“The Hall County school district has made wellness a priority for several years,” Schofield said. “We are extremely proud of our team members and students as their efforts continue to be recognized at both the state and national levels.”

The National Recognition Award, distributed through the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, is given to schools with nutrition services and physical activity that meet or exceed the standards set by the alliance’s Healthy Schools Program.

The alliance was founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation.

Standards are guided by health education, physical activity, nutrition and employee and student wellness, among other frameworks.

Spout Springs has put many programs in place over the past few years to meet those standards, McDaniel said.

The Parent Teacher Organization organizes the Seminole Sprint, the school’s only fundraiser. Students receive pledges for the number of laps they complete around the track, he said.

Additionally, personal trainers come in twice a week to engage teachers in “boot camp” after work, and a karate studio works with gym classes.

“Since we have increased our focus on health and wellness, our test scores are the highest they’ve ever been and our attendance is the highest it’s ever been,” McDaniel said. He added that it’s difficult to tie those increases to one specific thing, but he believes the emphasis on health and wellness contributes to those numbers.

“It is indisputable that the health habits young people adopt often follow them for the remainder of their lives,” Schofield said.

“Utilizing a three-pronged strategy that includes physical education, school nutrition and school nurses, our students’ measures of wellness are improving,” he added. “Additionally, community support has been overwhelming.”

For being nationally recognized, each school will receive a plaque along with other materials including a banner, posters and a certificate.

“(These are) some things they can decorate their school with and brand their school with to represent that they have been recognized,” said Abby Manishor with the Healthy Schools Program.

Former President Bill Clinton with the Clinton Foundation honored the schools at a ceremony in Little Rock, Ark., on Monday. Also present was Bernie Dennis, chairman of the American Heart Association board.

North Hall Middle, Sardis Enrichment, South Hall Middle, Spout Springs School of Enrichment and Sugar Hill Enrichment were also recently recognized by Gov. Nathan Deal with gold status for the 2012-13 SHAPE honor roll program.

Other Hall schools recognized by Deal were McEver Arts Academy, White Sulphur Elementary, Chestnut Mountain Creative School of Inquiry and Riverbend Elementary.


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