Three Anne Arundel County schools were rewarded for their consistency in keeping students healthy in the first-ever Wellness Schools of Distinction Award.
The awards were presented to the principals of , and schools late in December, and it was made public Tuesday.
Schools superintendent Kevin Maxwell surprised each of the schools’ principals by showing up unannounced with a plaque and a handshake.
A blue banner now hangs over Arnold Elementary School’s entrance proclaiming the school a wellness school of distinction. Principal Rosemary Biggart said she thinks the recognition is nice, but it’s more heartening for her to see her students excited about wellness.
“We have been committed to emotional and physical wellness for several years,” Biggart said. “I don’t see a lot of junk food around the cafeteria. Students are taking a liking to vegetables more than you’d think.”
A number of initiatives started at AES over the past few years, including bringing in health-related field visitors to speak with the students, an afterschool enrichment program, walk-a-thons, and even yoga for kids.
Biggart praised their cafeteria manager, Sherry Peterson, for thinking of fun, creative ways to get kids more interested in healthy habits.
“She runs things like rainbow Thursdays, where the kids will try to get as many colors on the plate as possible,” she said. “Our cafeteria has really come to embrace them.”
In order to win the award, schools had to show progress in establishing initiatives like these that show they have a coordinated school health program, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control. Category benchmarks included health education, physical activity, allied health personnel partnerships, nutrition, mental wellness, school environment, staff health and family/community involvement.
This is the first year the school system has awarded schools for these kinds of achievements, but it’s now planned to be given annually.