Goodrell Earns HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award

You gotta be young, strong and healthy to be bopping out upbeat tunes before 8:00 A.M. like the Goodrell Middle School jazz band was this morning as the rest of the fitter-than-ever student body filled up the auditorium.

Ordinarily they’d all have been on their way to class but today’s a special occasion at Goodrell. Today the school officially received a Gold Award in recognition of its efforts in the HealthierUS School Challenge, a campaign aimed at getting kids to be more active and eat healthier. In the spirit of the event a yogurt and granola breakfast was served to invited guests prior to the assembly.  This was neither the time nor the place to let ‘em eat a fancy, decorated cake.

How distinct is the honor? Considering that only seven schools in Iowa out of more than 1,400 that are eligible to go for it get the gold, it’s rare and not easily achieved. Today’s award ceremony was the culmination of a deliberate process that began more than two years ago and resulted in comprehensive changes at Goodrell, such as:

  • Vending machines were overhauled.
  • “PE” became “Healthy Choices.”
  • Cafeteria menus were revamped and kids enjoy all-they-care-to-eat fruit/veggie privileges there every day.
  • Taste tests are conducted to sample healthier alternatives.
  • “Game on Nights” are held, not only at Goodrell, but also at elementary feeders like Phillips Traditional, where school facilities are made available for assorted calorie-burning activities.
  • Goodrell has its own garden and the produce is incorporated into menu planning.
  • And the school gym routinely opens at 7:00 A.M so kids have a place to come and get energized before classes each morning.

Ann Feilmann, Bureau Chief of Nutrition and Health Services for the Iowa Department of Education, was on hand this morning to present the award. Banners were bestowed to be proudly displayed in the hallways and the cafeteria staff got to don special new aprons like badges of promotion. John Walling, who teaches everything from please to thanks at Goodrell and is one of the faculty “Wellness Warriors” who coordinated the school’s bid for the prestigious award, read a congratulatory letter from Michelle Obama. The First Lady has zeroed in on childhood obesity through her “Let’s Move” initiative.

All of the stuff on the award application looks and sounds great, but is it really having an impact?

“Yes, definitely,” according to 6th grader Alyssa Armstrong. “I found out that I really like cooked carrots,” she said. “And apples. I love apples.”

Goodrell’s official school colors may still be blue and white, but Alyssa’s recently acquired tastes are two prime examples of the unofficial new ones: orange, red and green, as in food that’s good for both body and mind. At Goodrell these days that’s the specialty of the house. That and energy to burn.

Photos from the Goodrell HealthierUS Challenge Ceremony

Published on