DOUGLAS COUNTY— Franktown-based Cherry Valley Elementary School and Highlands Ranch-based Bear Canyon Elementary School and Fox Creek Elementary School have been named among the healthiest schools in Colorado by the Colorado Education Initiative (CEI). A total of just 46 schools statewide were selected for this annual honor.
As “Healthy School Champions,” students, teachers and staff in these three schools will be recognized for their work at the Colorado Healthy Schools Summit on March 3 in Denver, presented by the CEI, Colorado Coalition for Healthy Schools and the Colorado Healthy Schools Collective Impact. The annual celebration recognizes schools that create and support a healthy school environment and also successfully implement effective school health efforts that support student learning.
“Our student-led Health Team and Green Teams have been leading the efforts for the last three years to earn this recognition, and for three years we have been recognized,” said Nancy Wortmann, Cherry Valley’s principal. “Together the teams have started a recycling program, reduced waste, hosted a school FUNd Run, began a school-wide morning exercise program, participated in the district’s 5K Run, painted new activities on our playground and many other school-wide activities around health and wellness.”
Above: Cherry Valley's gaga pit
"We have a student-led Health Team that is comprised of a self driven group of kids that are helping to make our school more healthy and fit," said Fox Creek's Health Team. "The team has started several initiatives such as B.O.W.O.W (Bike Or Walk On Wednesday), they helped with school participation in the DCSD 5K Run, led our school in choosing healthy foods for snack time and for celebrations, created a stop light food guide and presented it to the school, and lead the school in movement breaks. We are a Green Flag school who's staff participates in health and wellness challenges. We consistently strive to be models of health and wellness."
"Bear Canyon has a long-standing tradition of emphasizing the importance of healthy living and wellness," said Bear Canyon's Principal, Kelly Ursetta. "Our school’s Wellness Team collaborates with teachers, families and students to create healthy school options within the school. A few examples include: designing our yearly school fundraiser around a healthy fitness mindset, encouraging students and parents to send healthy snacks that support learning, and tying our PBiS model to intrinsic rather than food based rewards. This year, our BCE teachers have taken an additional step through implementing the DCSD Mindfulness Pilot Program to support students with understanding their social emotional health. Our commitment to our community is to teach our students healthy habits now, so that they carry over into adulthood."
Schools are awarded based on their implementation of best practices in school health through an assessment tool called Smart Source, a narrative outlining their work and letters of support.
“For the winning schools, health and wellness is embedded into the culture and systems,” said CEI Director of School Health, Amy Dyett. “It’s about having an intentional investment to meet the needs of their students and staff in order to achieve academically.”
For their work, Bear Canyon is receiving an Excellence Award and a $500 grant. Cherry Valley and Fox Creek are each receiving a Promising School Award along with a $300 grant.
Above left: Fox Creek. Right: Bear Canyon Elementary