February Feature Healthy School: St. Evan Catholic Elementary School
We are excited to have 317 registered Healthy Schools, representing 50 Ontario school boards across the province for Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification 2019/20 school year! You can find out if schools from your board have registered by viewing the Registered Schools List.
Every month until June, we’ll be sharing the experiences of select registered Healthy Schools who have been active on Twitter using #HSCertES; bringing you their success stories, challenges, and ideas to support you in making your school a healthier school. St. Evan Catholic Elementary School is our February Feature Healthy School. We caught up with teacher Cristina Pupo to learn about their experiences with Healthy Schools Certification. Check out our Q&A!
1. How does your Healthy Schools Team reflect your school community (e.g.: who is represented on the team, why is it important to have different groups of people represented)? What do these different members bring to the team?
Our Healthy Schools Team consists of students in grades 4-8 (refer to photo 1 and photo 2 for pictures of the student members of our Healthy Schools Team) who represent our Healthy BEE Squad (BEE Active, BEE Healthy, BEE Happy). In addition, each class from Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK) to grade 8 also has 2 Healthy Schools Representatives who help carry out the monthly challenges. We have 4 teacher members, our Principal and Vice Principal, our Public Health Nurse, and this year we have the honour of our Parent Team comprised of 3 parent representatives, one of which is a Naturopathic Doctor.
Within our team, each member brings a unique quality. We have many students returning to the team for our second year; all filled with excitement and motivation to get Gold again! Many of those members invited friends who saw what we did last year and wanted to help make a difference as well. Our grade 8 representatives also decided to help create a Google Classroom for our team where we can share important information, announcements, and schedules.
Within the BEE Squad, we decided to divide up the responsibilities based on what the students love to do. We created the following teams: Poster Crew (in charge of designing posters for our monthly challenges or upcoming events), Announcement Crew (in charge of creating announcements two times a week, depending on our monthly focus), Math Crew (in charge of tabulating the results of the monthly winners and rewarding classes with their trophy), Classroom Visit Crew (in charge of promoting our monthly ideas in-person), Dance Crew (we have members on our BEE Squad, in addition to teacher representatives, who are a part of our Dance Team. These members help carry out our Daily Physical Activity (DPA) challenges and act like our cheerleaders for a variety of events).
Within our team, we create a positive, inviting atmosphere where the students can really learn how important it is to keep our bodies healthy; through physical exercise, healthy eating, and through mental health. We always encourage our members to keep an open mind and to share ideas they would like to try. It’s also rewarding to see our students present and ready every Monday at lunch recess ready to tackle on our next monthly goal.
2. What is your Healthy Schools priority health topic? What needs are you hoping to address in your school community through this health topic?
This year, St. Evan’s priority topic is Healthy Eating. Being a new school community, we are still learning and evaluating our student population. We really wanted our students to understand the benefits of eating healthy and how easy it can be. We also encourage our students to eat their healthy snacks in the morning and save the “sometime” snacks for later on in the day.
With our messages, monthly food challenges, and teacher support, we have noticed an increase in healthier snack options being brought to school. By encouraging our students to be aware of the benefits of healthier options, it has led to the students bringing home the messages to their parents and a rise in healthy snack options being packed in lunch bags.
3. What is an activity you are planning or have planned this year? What difference will/did this activity make?
One of the activities we are planning this year will take place during Nutrition Month in March. With Healthy Eating being our priority focus, we thought it would be a great idea to pick 4 healthy snack options (one/week) and make them with the students on the Healthy BEE Squad. With the help of our parent representative who is a Naturopathic Doctor, she has been able to provide us recipes and a nutritional breakdown. Our goal is to educate our students on how easy it is to make and eat healthy. In turn, we want our members to spread the messages to their friends, maybe even try making the recipes at home with their families.
4. Tell us about a success, no matter how big or small, that your Healthy Schools team has had this year. Who was involved? What changed in your school?
One of our biggest successes we noticed this year was our January DPA challenge. For the entire month, every Friday morning, right after morning announcements, the whole school; FDK to grade 8, came together in our gym to do 20 minutes of DPA. Our Dance Team and Healthy BEE Squad led the movements on the stage. It was amazing to see staff and most of our students moving along every step of the way. We kept the songs and the movements the same, so the students knew what to do week after week.
Looking across the gym and seeing smiles, students dancing, students singing, and staff participating was what made this challenge such a success.
“What a great way to end our week – coming together as a community” was what many staff members shared with us. Since it was such as success, school wide DPA is now one of our events for Spirit Week ideas!
5. How have students shown leadership within your school community as a result of Healthy Schools Certification?
Since many of our students on the team returned from last year, they were more comfortable and aware of what this team required from them. This year, we had many students, month after month; ask us if they could join our team, which was great!
Our Healthy BEE Squad members are always ready with a book and pencil in hand every Monday afternoon; the notes they take during our meetings are impressive. They helped plan our monthly challenges for the entire school year. They even created their own announcements for our monthly challenges, as well as our Google Classroom.
Our Healthy BEE Squad members were in charge of collecting data for our Walk to School days, doing a great job on their own and receiving positive feedback from our staff.
During the month of February, our school participated in a Heart Healthy Week. Every day for one week we held a different activity. One of the activities where our student members really shined was during the Sugar Awareness Workshop; student members were trained on the activities they would present with our Public Health Nurse. The students came up with the idea of handing out stickers and certificates to participating students and when I collected feedback from staff; they were so impressed with how well the students did on their own and how fun they made it for the students.
Cristina Pupo @mrs_pupo
Teacher, St. Evan Catholic Elementary School