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The Orchard School Health Advisory Council met on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. in the Orchard business room. Members of the council in attendance were Principal Cathy Cooper, board president and parent Candice Hoke, elementary teacher Cheryl Schwager, cook Anita Tabbert, health and P.E. teacher Lindi Ferguson, and parent Kerry Wickersham. During their 45 minute meeting, the group discussed the following current practices and new ideas.
Anita Tabbert gave updates on school lunches as well as the fruits and vegetables program. Orchard’s school lunches continue to be a hit with both students and staff. Last year, as a result of this council’s meeting, they began the Choose a Healthy Meal: Eat Smart to Be Smart program in which each class picks a balanced meal consisting of each of the food groups. On the day that class’s meal is served, their parents, grandparents, or other adults are invited as their guests.
Although this year Orchard did not qualify for the federal fruits and vegetables program, the Orchard Advisory Board requested that the cooks continue to provide a locally funded form of this program. The cooks purchase a variety of fruits and vegetables and serve them to students every Tuesday and Thursday morning with the intent of introducing foods that these students might not normally eat and instilling a lifelong desire for healthy food choices.
Mrs. Ferguson updated the council on new practices in the P.E. curriculum. Twelve heart monitors were purchased for this year, and Mrs. Ferguson plans to rotate the use of these throughout the elementary, junior high, and high school. Her intent is that students see the relationship between exercise intensity and heart rate. She also plans to incorporate jump roping into her curriculum because she has found that many students have not mastered this skill.
Mrs. Schwager discussed the use of brain breaks, short periods of time that break up the academic routine, in the elementary classrooms. Studies show that students who are given periodic brain breaks, which might include exercising, dancing, walking, etc., have increased attention spans and are better able to refocus and learn. Mrs. Schwager said that all of the elementary teachers use some daily form of brain break. Also, in the fifth and sixth grade classrooms, students take turns using standing desks, which are meant to increase movement while learning and decrease disruptive behavior.
In addition, new this year is Monday Morning Motivation. All K-12 students and staff are invited to the gym every Monday morning for 5 minutes of exercise, fun, and motivation to prepare for a great week of learning. A variety of teachers, classes, and groups of students lead this event each week. Furthermore, Bradley Averill, Food, Nutrition, and Health Extension Education, will be coming to the Orchard School once a month throughout this school year. He will spend twenty-five minutes with each class throughout the building focusing on multiple aspects of living a healthy lifestyle.
The final topic of discussion was Nebraska Beef in Schools. The goal of this program is to promote Nebraska beef for school lunch programs and encourage beef education and nutrition throughout Nebraska schools. Several area schools have already implemented this program, which provides locally raised beef, donated or purchased, to students for school lunches. Mrs. Cooper is researching this program and is hoping to implement it soon.
The School Health Council consists of volunteers who work together to monitor and review the school’s Wellness and Nutrition Policy as required by the Advisory Board Handbook.