Superintendent of Schools George Arlotto recently surprised the principals at Arnold, Hilltop, and Jacobsville elementary schools and Southern High School with news that their school communities had earned a 2014 AACPS Wellness School of Distinction award. The award recognizes schools that demonstrate a high priority for the health and well-being of students, staff, and school supporters by going beyond the curriculum to produce positive outcomes for the entire school community.
“This is the big picture,” Dr. Arlotto said. “Here are prime examples of putting all the right pieces together to create all-encompassing school communities where healthy mindsets yield excellence inside and outside of the classroom.”
In order to win the prestigious honor, schools must show significant effort in establishing initiatives that comprehensively address the eight components of a coordinated school health program as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control: health education, physical activity, allied health personnel partnerships, nutrition, mental wellness, school environment, staff health, and family/community involvement.
From staff-inclusive fitness activities to a student-initiated cardio lab to instructional vegetable gardens to health-inspired fundraisers, each winning school’s approach to creating a culture of wellness is unique, but with one common factor: collaboration and motivation to be a well community.
This year, schools that won the award three years ago were eligible to apply to maintain their statuses. Arnold and Jacobsville elementary schools earned their second designations.
As an extension of the AACPS Wellness Council and policy, the award is given annually.