Physical Activity and Nutrition
Physical Activity and Nutrition Program Synopsis
The overarching goal of the Physical Activity and Nutrition Program at North Hillsborough School is to teach the students the reasons why it is important to make healthy lifestyle choices. The hope is that students will learn and practice healthy habits from a very young age, which will ultimately foster a culture of healthy living long after the students leave elementary school.
The physical education program at North is geared to meet the social, emotional, and physical needs of all students. It is a developmentally appropriate, skill-based, non-competitive program which adheres to the California Physical Education Model Content Standards. This program is taught by a credentialed physical education teacher. Primary grade students are taught locomotor and non-locomotor skills which form the basis for all movement. All activities at this age are cooperative and provide opportunities for students to experience success and the joy of movement. Upper grade students combine the previously acquired skills and put them into action with more complex movement patterns. Games and activities remain non-competitive and winners are determined by whether students furthered their learning, tried their best, had fun, and demonstrated good sportsmanship. The physical education program integrates the relevant Health Education Content standards into lessons and units. The students are seamlessly learning nutrition and health content throughout their physical education program. In the classrooms, the health standards are also integrated into language arts assignments and other curricular areas such as science and social studies. All students at North School are assessed on their progress at regular intervals throughout the year.
Staff members participate in a variety of professional development throughout the year including district-wide collaboration with peers, weekly site-level collaboration with colleagues, and other workshops and conferences. North School focuses on meeting individual student needs and a great deal of time is spent collaborating with colleagues and specialists on effective instructional strategies unique to an individual, including those which will help a child access the physical education and nutrition content.
Health, nutrition, and physical activity are highly valued in the North Hillsborough School community. The staff is quite health conscious and many of them are physically fit. Some have ambitious fitness goals and most exercise regularly. Teachers act as role models for students and can be seen drinking water from reusable containers throughout the day. Most parents prioritize working out as part of their daily routine and some even use the North campus to play tennis while their children are in school. Spreading these values, parents ensure their children are physically active. Many Hillsborough students participate in sports activities outside of the school day either through the Hillsborough Recreation department or more competitive organizations such as California Youth Soccer and Club leagues. The school’s facilities provide a community venue for after-school and weekend sports, including a well-maintained field and recently constructed Multi-Purpose room.
Healthy eating is encouraged throughout the school day. North School has a Healthy Food Initiative Policy and students are only offered healthy food choices during the school day. The school lunch program offers students a wide variety of healthy foods and students are only offered foods from the approved food list in the classroom. Recognizing that healthy children make better students, North School seeks to do everything possible to improve the quality of life for the students, so they may grow up to be healthy, happy, and successful adults.
School Programs and Processes Theme 1: Planning, Policy, and Oversight
The Hillsborough City School District (HCSD) does not yet have an adopted board-approved wellness policy. Without a district policy in place, the staff at North School decided to take the initiative and create their own site-specific student wellness policy. The school decided to make wellness a priority because over time, the principal, parents and staff members had started to see a large increase in the quantity of junk food that was being served to students during the school day at classroom celebrations for events such as birthdays, Star of the Week students, and incentive parties. This became more and more frequent; even leftover food from house parties was brought into classrooms. At one point it was not uncommon for a student to have multiple celebrations containing junk food in one day. That was the impetus to form the North wellness committee.
The wellness committee is currently comprised of one classroom teacher, the physical education teacher, and the school principal, and includes input from the North Parent Group president. The wellness committee designed and implemented the current Healthy Food Initiative Policy (see p. 4, par. 3). The North wellness committee communicates and collaborates with the North parents and staff via the North News (the school newsletter disseminated electronically twice a month). The school principal, North Parent Group president, grade level teachers, and School Site Council parents exchange information with the North School community during monthly School Site Council meetings. The School Site Council approved the Healthy Food Initiative Policy within the 2013-2014 Single Plan for Student Achievement and the meeting minutes were posted and made available to families. The North wellness committee actively reads about ways to improve student wellness. Members attend relevant county conferences, such as the, “Get Healthy San Mateo” community kick off conference, in order to gain knowledge and tools for the purpose of continuing the development of a site-specific wellness policy. North School has not yet been recognized for any awards on its healthy school environment.
The Healthy Food Initiative Policy was designed initially to focus on student access to foods that were not sanctioned and/or sent to school by a parent (see p. 4, par. 3). The principal took the lead on the oversight of the implementation of this policy. The staff and parents believed that parents, not the school or other parents, should be the decision-makers for their own children. North students are more likely to need to gain weight or struggle with an eating disorder rather than struggle with obesity. Parent discussions over the years kept the staff acutely aware that different students have different nutritional needs and dietary goals. The staff has been cautioned by parents about having teachers give the students their own nutritional recommendations or opinions because some students tend to interpret what their teacher says as fact as opposed to opinion. When a teacher implies that eating certain foods such as those high in fat, are not ideal, a student tends to listen to the advice of the teacher even if it is in conflict with a health provider’s recommendation. At North, there are many students who actually need to gain weight and should eat foods high in fat, so it is important to understand that all children have different dietary goals. There is a strong belief that the parents are the most qualified to decide what their child should eat, as they are the ones most aware of their child’s allergies and dietary goals.
In the first year of implementation, the decision was made to focus mostly on the school day and to continue to give parents the decision-making power for choosing the food for their own children for school events in the evenings. In order to respect the belief that parents best understand their child’s nutritional needs, the decision was made to start by expanding the selection of the types of foods made available during evening events to reflect the “rainbow” of food categories (see p. 6, par. 2). The wellness committee, parents, and staff agreed that offering families a broader selection of food, including healthier options, would likely lead to parents being able to make healthier choices for their children. Every school event in the evening this year has had many options for healthy food consumption, including fruit, vegetables, and water. The Parent Group committees have done an excellent job advertising the menu to the community in advance of the event, so families may plan accordingly for their children.
The health of students is discussed at the district level through the district-wide Drug Alcohol Tobacco Education (DATE) advisory committee. The DATE committee is comprised of teachers, parents, counselors, administrators, middle school students and community members who come together to address issues pertaining to student health and wellness. The issues range from Drug Alcohol and Tobacco Education to emotional health, and any other issues that relate to improving the social/emotional and physical health and safety of students. The committee generally meets three to four times per year to review what the schools have been doing in this area, to set goals based on both identified needs and the results of the California Healthy Kids Survey in years when it has been administered. Every other year the fifth graders at North take part in the California Healthy Kids Survey. Once the survey is completed, information is gathered and shared at a DATE meeting, at board meetings, and at Administrative Council meetings. In addition, the results of the survey are used as a basis by the DATE committee to set goals for the following school year.
Theme 2: Healthy Eating, Beverages, and Nutrition Education
North offers two 20-minute lunch periods for seated dining. Students who do not finish eating within their designated 20-minute period are allowed extra time to finish their meals. In order to provide a variety of food choices to meet the cultural and nutritional needs of all students, North School has recently contracted with Kid Chow, a unique Bay Area food service program. Kid Chow partners with local businesses and organic farms to provide students with the highest quality, in season foods available. Web-based ordering allows parents to customize children’s meals by offering more than 25 options a day. Kid Chow enables parents to pick the exact bread, sauce, condiments, fruits, and vegetables to meet their child’s specific nutritional needs. Fresh fruits and vegetables are offered as side dishes. They also offer daily gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian options, and traditional dishes from countries such as Mexico, India, and Japan. All meals are freshly prepared daily and delivered in individualized compostable brown paper lunch bags. Because the program is so customizable, the students actually eat their Kid Chow lunches instead of throwing the food away which was commonly seen with previous vendors. About 80% of students purchase lunch from Kid Chow; the other 20% bring lunch from home. Kid Chow bring samples of new menu items from time to time for the students to try in order to expand the student’s repertoire of tasty food options. Free and reduced lunch applications are rare and when needed they are submitted to the district office for approval. North school does not currently have any students requiring breakfast or after school/summer meals, however if that became a need, the school district would address it and the school would implement it.
Taste testing new foods from different cultures is offered to students annually on Family Heritage Day. The Parent Group organizes parent leaders to create displays from cultures from all over the world. Displays include geographic location, other information about the culture and a typical food from that culture. Approximately 25-30 culture booths are open all morning for students to cycle through and taste foods from various cultures. From beef from Korea, to hummus and pita bread from the Middle East, students are exposed to various foods and it is one of the students’ favorite days of the year. First grade also offers a curricular unit called “Semester at Sea” annually where students study a country for a week and the week culminates in food tasting from that country. Examples over the past few years have included beans and rice from Brazil and samosas from India. Students are also offered opportunities to plant and harvest various fruits and vegetables grown in the North school garden, which is maintained by parent volunteers. This program allows students to learn the vegetable growth cycle and to taste foods they helped grow.
All of the permanent classrooms are equipped with sinks and water fountains. Portable classrooms are supplied with frequently delivered jug water to give all students easy access to drinking water. Students are allowed access to water throughout the school day, including during instruction. There are four outdoor water fountains located throughout the campus which provide water during recess and for after school events. The Healthy Food Initiative Policy states that soda and other sweetened beverages will not be provided at school. There are no soda machines or vending machines on campus. Students are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles to school in order to stay hydrated throughout the day. At least 90% of our staff models this behavior by also bringing their own reusable water bottles on a daily basis. The physical education teacher has created and delivered lessons based on the Physical Education Model Content Standards dealing with the importance of drinking water and staying hydrated during and after physical activity. One of the Red Ribbon Week themes was “Rethink your Drink”. Students created posters illustrating the importance of drink choices and the posters were displayed throughout the school.
The Healthy Food Initiative Policy’s main goal was to reduce student access to junk food, reduce the quantity of food provided by staff to the students, and provide healthier food options for students during classroom celebrations. Members of the wellness committee reviewed the research on the correlation between healthy eating and strong academic achievement and the parents and staff decided to make wellness a priority. The principal presented the research and proposed solutions to the parents at a Parent Group meeting and to the staff at a staff meeting. The policy states that during school hours all food and snacks provided to students by North staff, or donated by parents to a classroom and then distributed by North staff, must be a “Go” or “Slow” food from the North Healthy Food List (see p. 4, par. 4). Foods listed in the “Whoa” food category, which are dropped off in the classroom or office, will not be served to the students. The policy also reduced the quantity of sanctioned celebrations containing food permitted in each classroom. It was not uncommon to find one or more celebrations with junk food in a classroom per week. The new policy limited food celebrations to four times per year, or one class celebration allowed per season. Room parents are in charge of helping the teacher plan these events and all events are supposed to offer students a “rainbow” of foods from the various food groups (see p. 6, par. 2). All other celebrations such as birthdays, Star of the Week, etc. are now celebrated in other ways that do not involve food. Many teachers have offered students the chance to choose their own special way of celebrating their birthday and many students have chosen to show the class a special item or have even given the class extra physical activity time outside.
The policy resulted in the creation of the North Healthy Food List. The wellness committee collected various healthy food lists from other schools throughout the state and items on the various lists were reviewed by the staff as a whole. After reviewing many healthy food lists from other schools, the North wellness committee chose to use the concept of “Whoa, Slow, and Go” foods, which categorizes foods according to their nutritional value. The “Whoa” foods are ones which the students are taught to avoid or consume rarely. The “Slow” foods are the foods which students should consume in moderation, and the “Go” foods are the foods that do not need to be limited and should be consumed on a regular basis based on the nutritional content.The draft North Healthy Food List was reviewed by stakeholders multiple times and went through several changes in order to make sure the content was clear to the reader. It was a collaborative effort, and the Parent Group board president had the final approval before it was published. Soon after, the physical education teacher taught this concept to all students, and “Whoa, Slow, and Go” became a school-wide concept that was embraced by parents, teachers, and the principal.
The Healthy Food Initiative Policy and the North Healthy Food List were distributed to parents via the North Newsletter, and both were placed prominently in the Parent Handbook at the beginning of the year. To ensure all parents were fully aware of the new policy there was even a quiz given to all families to complete as part of the student homework to have families answer questions about the new food policy. The principal, teachers, and room parents also reiterated the rules of the policy in emails before each class celebration to remind the parents to follow it. Parents have really embraced it and no one has tried to ignore the policy and bring in “Whoa” foods to share with the class. All students are encouraged by their classroom teachers to bring a healthy snack from home to eat during the morning and afternoon recesses in order to stabilize blood sugar and enhance the student’s ability to focus in class.
Each year in October, North participates in Red Ribbon Week, which encourages healthy lifestyles. Themes for Red Ribbon Week are designed to support the overarching standards contained in the Health Education Content Standards for California Public Schools. Each grade level is assigned a different “healthy choices” theme, and each day a different theme is celebrated and promoted. This year, one of the themes was: “We Choose to Eat Healthy Foods and Drink More Water”. To promote this theme, students were asked to make a pledge to avoid eating at least one of their favorite “Whoa” foods during Red Ribbon Week. Student pledges were displayed proudly in front of the school library. Students received a healthy food pencil for participating in the event. Teachers who made a pledge also received a pencil. The North Parent Group funded and organized a school-wide assembly entitled, “Eat the Rainbow: The Nutrition Show” put on by the Alphabet Rockers, who set healthy lifestyle choice lyrics to music. The assembly taught students how to make healthy breakfast choices, evaluate food choices, and taught what it means to eat a variety of nutritional foods. These concepts were expressed in an innovative and fun way, which included selecting nutritious breakfast foods for energy during band practice, evaluating nutritional values with the food calculator, ‘beat boxing’ healthy food choices, and celebrating “eating the rainbow” over the course of the day. The students danced and sang along during the energetic assembly.
The Hillsborough Education Foundation offers the annual “Fun Run” as one of its main fundraisers. Families may walk, or run in a 2K, 5K, or 10K in order to raise money for the school district. This fundraiser builds community while offering fun exercise and it raises thousands of dollars every year. There are medals given for the fastest participants in their age categories and the winners are announced in front of all participants.
The main annual fundraiser for the Student Council at North School is done without using food as an incentive for the students to sell more products. North’s Student Council has also hosted lunchtime handball, flag football and four-square tournaments as fundraisers.
Nutrition education at North is seamlessly embedded into the physical education program. The physical education teacher at North has developed a standards-based nutritional education curriculum based on the Health Education Content Standards for California Public Schools. In Kindergarten, students are introduced to the food groups and the theme of eating foods that have a variety of colors. By the time students are in fourth and fifth grades, they are required to keep a record of their physical activity levels and food consumption using a daily logs. Other lessons include reading food labels and calculating calories consumed and calories expended during physical activity. The physical education teacher partnered with the Dairy Council to bring a cow to school during an assembly in order to teach students the origin of some of their food. Classroom teachers also provide instruction in the health standards and integrate the standards into other curricular areas. For example, there are opportunities for students to choose health-related topics during self-selected research projects (e.g., the effects of steroid use) and students partake in integrated projects in science (e.g., the dissection of pig’s heart). The North School Garden provides an additional venue to teach students about sustainable food consumption along with the life and growth of fruits and vegetables.
Input from students is needed for the Kid Chow lunch program at North. In order for a parent to customize a lunch according to a child’s preference, a discussion at home is necessary. The lunch program allows parents to meet the dietary requirements of their own children. The North Healthy Food Initiative Policy states that classroom celebrations that provide food will only be allowed four times during the school year and must include a “rainbow” of food choices from the protein, whole grains, dairy, fruits, and vegetables food categories. All food provided during these celebrations must be from the approved North Healthy Food List (see p. 4, par. 4). Teachers honor student accomplishments in a variety of ways, which include but are not limited to providing pencils, stickers, show and tell opportunities, or even extra activity time at recess. School-sponsored evening events always include water and fruit juice and the food includes a wide range of healthy foods now such as fruits and vegetables, vegetarian meals, and gluten free options.
Theme 3: Physical Education and Physical Activity
All students at North follow the district-implemented model for physical education program which provides physical education instruction by a California credentialed physical education teacher twice a week for thirty minutes. Classroom teachers supplement instruction in order to reach 200 minutes every ten days. Students in fourth grade consistently receive an additional 30 minutes of physical education per week from their classroom teacher and students in fifth grade consistently receive an additional 20 minutes from their classroom teachers. Students in Kindergarten through second grade receive an additional 15-minute recess every day which allows for physical activity and students in third grade receive an additional 10-minute recess every day. North’s School Site Council is currently discussing ways to increase the number of physical education minutes provided by a credentialed teacher and some creative solutions are in the works.
North’s physical educator is a teacher leader for the Bay Area Physical Education Health Project (Bay PE-HP). Bay PE-HP is an intensive professional development program dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in teaching standards-based physical education and health education that is intended to increase the teachers’ academic content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, the use of instructional strategies for English language learners, and the application of the Common Core State Standards.
The physical education program at North is geared to meet the social, emotional, and physical needs of all students. It is a sequential, developmentally appropriate, skill-based, non-competitive program based on the California Physical Education Model Content Standards. Written lesson plans are created by the physical education teacher and these plans demonstrate clear and concise objectives from the content standards. Primary grade students are taught locomotor and non-locomotor skills which form the basis for all movement. All activities at this age are cooperative and provide opportunities for students to experience success and the joy of movement. Upper grade students use the previously acquired skills and put them into action with more complex movement patterns. The students participate in moderate to vigorous activities at least two times per week during instruction. Games and activities remain non-competitive and winners are determined by whether students furthered their learning, tried their best, had fun, and demonstrated good sportsmanship.
All students at North receive 15 minutes of unstructured physical activity during their morning recess and 20 minutes during their lunch recess. Once a week during lunch recess, students can choose to participate in a structured game of Capture the Flag, which is organized by the physical education teacher.In the past three years, the physical education teacher has organized the “Friday Fun Run” on the last Friday of each month for students, teachers, and even parents. All staff members encourage students to participate and they are personally invited by the physical education teacher, classroom teacher, and by student leaders on the daily school-wide announcements to come out and run for 20 minutes. The “Friday Fun Run” is just as the name suggests – fun! There is loud music playing so that it feels like a celebration for the participants. Participants count the number of laps they run or walk around the field. For every two laps the student completes, he/she receives a stamp from a fifth grade student leader. Students hand in their stamped cards and collect charms shaped like feet that they put on their metal necklace which they received early in the year. Approximately half of the 350 students participated in these events and the Superintendent tried never to miss one! In addition, Student Council members have hosted a variety of structured physical activity tournaments for the students during recess time as well (see p. 5, par. 5).
North School is situated on a hill and students receive a lot of exercise as they move from class to class. Students are constantly going up and down the main stairs to eat lunch, go to recess, watch an assembly, or participate in their computer, library, music, and physical education classes. These classes are offered on a different levels spread out throughout campus. Students taking instrumental music must make the 10-minute “trek” up to the middle school campus and back. Teachers realize the importance of movement and ensure that all students are given frequent motor breaks in class. There is a lot physical activity built into the student day.
The “Fall Fitness Unit” begins in September for all fourth and fifth grade students. The students are pre-assessed as early as fourth grade in order to determine student fitness levels so students can attend to fitness areas needing more work and areas to maintain as they prepare for the FITNESSGRAM. The FITNESSGRAM is the California state-mandated fitness assessment given to fifth grade students every spring. In the 2012-2013 school year, 68 fifth grade students were tested and the following percentages of students fell in the “Healthy Fitness Zones”: aerobic capacity, 100%; body composition, 79.4%; abdominal strength, 97.1%; trunk extension strength, 92.6%; upper body strength, 98.5%; flexibility, 89.7%. This program is effective, as evidenced by the FITNESSGRAMtesting results. FITNESSGRAM results are made available on the School’s Accountability Report Cards each year.
The Hillsborough Recreation Department is responsible for the before- and after-school programs provided to the North School community. This organization is focused on delivering athletic programs, learning enrichment, and fitness classes such as Zumba, hip-hop, yoga, and fitness boot camps. The nine different sports offered throughout the year include basketball, soccer, lacrosse, flag football, baseball, softball, volleyball, tennis, and track and field. There are 68 different teams and approximately 80% of the North student population participates on one or more of these teams. North is centrally located in the Hillsborough community, so its facilities are the hub for after-school sports and physical activity programs.
Each year the North physical educator organizes a “Family Fitness Night” for students and families. This is event is well-attended by families, particularly by families where both parents work. Various fitness activity stations are set up throughout the school and each student is given a “fitness passport”. This event gives the students the opportunity to demonstrate skills and lessons they have acquired throughout the year in physical education. The students lead their parents through all of the fitness stations and each family member participates. Once the “fitness passports” are full, families reconvene in the MPR for a staff-led group dance which is the highlight of the event. The families all participate fully. There are healthy snacks and water available throughout the event for hydration and re-fueling. Students all receive recognition for their participation in the event.
An end of the year highlight is the Hillsborough Schools Foundation “Fun Run”. Students earn first, second, and third place ribbons in their age group for the 2K, 5K, and 10K (see p. 5, par. 5). Equally exciting for students is “Field Day”, which is held the second last day of school. Fifth grade student leaders set up and run 20 different cooperative physical activity stations, including relay races, obstacle courses, balance activities, etc. on the North field for students in Kindergarten through fourth grades. Grade level teams dress in their assigned color in order to add a feeling of team spirit and cooperation to the event. All grade levels participate in this fun and active event.
Theme 4: Employee Wellness
Overall, the North staff is a very healthy group of individuals who take eating well very seriously and most staff members make time for exercise as a regular and an important lifestyle choice. There are a number of teachers at North who participate in an after-school running club together and recently those teachers completed the Big Sur Half Marathon. There is also a walking group that goes on daily walks during their lunch break. The Hillsborough Recreation Department provides a brochure with a calendar of fitness classes on-site at North School that teachers may join. The MPR and field facilities are available for staff to use to further their own fitness goals.
Currently the district does not have a comprehensive employee wellness program. In recent board meetings the superintendent proposed creating a district wellness committee that would work to research and develop a district wide policy. Last year at North a school-site wellness committee was organized to research and develop the Healthy Food Initiative Policy (see p. 4, par. 3). The members of the wellness committee also serve as an available resource on physical activity and nutrition information for staff members. The North School wellness committee has seen a recent shift in the types of foods brought into the staff room and workroom. Since this policy has been in effect, parents and staff members no longer have copious amounts of leftover junk food from class celebrations that they “dump” in the workroom for staff members to finish off.Also new and noteworthy is the fact that parents are providing healthier options (e.g., hummus, vegetables, fruit, etc.) for staff appreciation events instead of junk food. The parents are very cognizant of their contributions to the staff’s wellness goals. Many staff members were skeptical that all staff and parents would abide by the North Healthy Food Initiative Policy. The policy has actually been so successful for students that the plan is to expand the focus to the adults next year including all staff appreciation events and school-sponsored evening events. Health insurance is available for all employees working 3.75 hours per day and these employees are able to access health screenings through their health provider.
The principal is currently acting as the “employee wellness leader” and her charge is to further the cause of the North Healthy Food Initiative. Recently, the principal received information regarding an upcoming county health summit and the principal sent it to the wellness committee members and suggested that the committee members attend.
Theme 5: Professional Development
North School and the Hillsborough City School District (HCSD) believe staff development is fundamental to improving instruction in all curricular areas. There are many opportunities for staff development in physical education, health, and nutrition. Shortly after the California Health Education Content standards were adopted in 2008, the district devoted time for staff development for their implementation. District grade-level teams, counselors, and physical education teachers met multiple times to review the standards and figure out who would be responsible to teaching the various standards. A district matrix was developed to show all of the teachers which standards would be their responsibility. This process took the better part of a year and site grade-level teams continued the work in their teams to figure out lessons and delivery strategies for all health standards.
There are many students with special needs at North School (e.g., students with autism spectrum disorders, emotional disorders, and coordination disorders). It is a priority at North to make sure students with special needs are able to participate to their full capability in the physical education program. North School has an Adaptive Physical Education (APE) teacher one day per week and she and the physical education teacher collaborate on specific students. The APE teaches the physical education teacher techniques that she is able to use with the students who need them. In addition, North School partners with the on-campus Bridge School, a school for students with severe speech and physical impairments, to integrate Bridge students into the physical education lessons. There is training for all teachers to learn how best to serve students depending on their special need. In addition to the teachers, one-to-one aides who assist students with special needs are provided 30 minutes per week for training on student-specific instructional strategies that better assist the integration of their students into physical education classes. Equally powerful, ongoing staff development occurs for the North staff via Child Study Team meetings, Individual Education Program meetings, and Section 504 meetings. The physical education teacher and the Adaptive physical education teacher attend all meetings where the child’s physical, behavioral, or communication needs are a concern and are possibly impeding student progress in physical education class. These meetings act as ongoing professional development for teachers because problem solving occurs during every meeting and new strategies are developed for each individual child.
The North wellness committee is partnered with the “Get Healthy San Mateo County” campaign, which is geared toward developing strategies to help reduce and prevent obesity along with other health risks among children in San Mateo County. This campaign provides specific information on the development of wellness polices along with how to enlist support for student health services. The North wellness committee has been able to utilize this information in order to initiate and gain community and district support in working towards developing a district-wide wellness policy.
The North physical education teacher at North School participates in ongoing professional development as a teacher leader for the Bay Area Physical Education Health Project (see p. 6, par. 4). In 2011, the physical education attended the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) National Convention in San Diego. This National Conference was the largest health and physical education conference in California, and provided the physical education teacher with a vast amount of knowledge and skills. Last year, the physical education teacher attended the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) conference in San Francisco in order to gain knowledge and information regarding how to best address and teach the California Health Education Content standards to the North student population. The knowledge gained from attending this conference was shared with the two other elementary physical education teachers in the district during a district-wide staff meeting. Using the information provided, they developed a curriculum unit on nutrition including macronutrients, reading food labels, and how nutrition affects physical activity. The district also schedules one meeting per month for the “job-alike” groups in the district, so the physical education teachers at the elementary schools are able to get together to collaborate and learn from one another.
Aspects of North School’s overall health and wellness policies are conveyed to parents and the community through the parent handbook and during monthly School Site Council meetings. These meetings provide the opportunity for parents to share and express their concerns, thoughts, and opinions regarding the student wellness policy and practices. It was during one of these meetings that a parent expressed concern regarding the amount of “sugary treats” her child was offered and consuming while at school. This led to a fact-finding mission in which the principal surveyed the staff to find out exactly when food was distributed to students during the school day and for what reasons. The principal found out that students were given food for countless reasons (including no reason at all) from staff members and parents alike. After doing this research, the principal went to the Parent Group and School Site Council to explain the problem. Many parents were not even aware that their children were receiving junk food during the day, and all parents were surprised at the quantity of consumption.
Theme 6: Community Involvement and Collaboration
Community involvement and collaboration is a fundamental component of the culture at North School and the Hillsborough City School District. In addition to regular visits from the local health department, there are partnerships with the Hillsborough Recreation Department, Hillsborough Schools Foundation, North Parent Group, “Get Healthy San Mateo County” organizers, the Hillsborough Police Department, and Central County Fire Department, which all make North School a strong place for student well-being. The Hillsborough Schools Foundation hosts an annual community “Fun Run” at North School in June and approximately 90% of the students and their families participate in order to help raise money for the school district. Students and families have the opportunity to run in a 2K, 5K and 10K. The 2K is popular with students as young as 4 years old and the 10K has had students as young as third grade run in it. It is a spirited event and many people dress up for it. There are medals given for the fastest participants in their age categories and participants enjoy a healthy breakfast while waiting for the results. Music is also played throughout the day at North, which is where the race starts and ends, in order to motivate everyone and lift spirits. There is also the “Hillsborough Classic” which includes an annual tennis tournament for parents. The Hillsborough Recreation Department offers a variety of sports and fitness activities for the North community (see p. 7, par. 5). Every spring, the Hillsborough Police Department hosts a “bike rodeo” to help students learn about bike safety including the health and environmental benefits of riding a bike to school as opposed to being driven.Throughout the year, the North Parent Group supports community wellness by hosting monthly “walk or ride your bike to school” days. Students who walk or ride a bike to school receive a token of recognition.
Each June, the fourth grade students take a week-long field trip to Yosemite National Park to hike for four days. Students are put into teams and are encouraged to reach beyond their perceived capabilities to reach their physical limits. The goal is to foster teamwork and good sportsmanship.
North student leaders also promote healthy choices throughout the year at six school-wide character assemblies. These assemblies are led by fifth grade students, and student-created skits teach the students about the importance of making good decisions that promote character development, healthy bodies, and healthy minds. At least one of the assemblies is fully dedicated to grade-level created and/or classroom-created skits and songs promoting the health standards at their grade level. The students love this assembly.
Theme 7: Resources, Facilities, and Funding
North School facilities are accessible to the Hillsborough community during non-school hours through the partnership with the Hillsborough Recreation Department. In 2010, the district completed construction of the North School Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) funded by the Measure B Bond. The MPR serves as the students’ dining facility and it contains lunch tables which retract into the wall so they may be stored when the facility is needed for sports, including a full basketball court. The MPR contains a new kitchen and it is currently used to house supplies for the Kid Chow lunch program.
The MPR is used for a variety of community programs and events such as basketball, volleyball, dance, fitness and yoga classes, board meetings, plays and musicals. In order to support the school as a community hub, the Hillsborough Recreation Department fosters a joint-use agreement with the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) and Hillsborough Little League. The partnership with these two organizations has provided funding to renovate and help maintain the North School grass field.The Hillsborough Recreation Department coordinates the use of the North grass field during non-school hours. Some of the community sports offered include soccer, lacrosse, and flag football. The field and MPR are both well maintained by school site custodian, the district’s maintenance team, and the district’s grounds team. Work orders for any problems are fulfilled very quickly. The field is lined every Thursday according to the requirements of the seasonal sport. Other organizations (e.g., the Bridge School and other outside agencies) are permitted the use of the field and MPR.
The physical education program employs a variety of modern technologies to support, facilitate, and motivate student learning. The physical education teacher uses digital video cameras during instruction to show students how they are performing new movement skills. Students then analyze the videos in order to remediate skill production. Students also use pedometers to monitor activity levels during physical education class. A portable I-Pod sound system is used during class fitness station activities as a motivational tool.
Each classroom is provided equipment such as jump ropes, basketballs, soccer balls, footballs, and rubber playground balls in order to promote physical activity during recess. At the end of every school year the physical education teacher inventories the physical education equipment and enhances or replaces supplies as needed. The school provides funding for physical education equipment, Red Ribbon Week, Family Fitness Night, and Field Day expenses. Physical education is treated as a priority and funding is constantly provided to in order to ensure the school is offering an exemplary Physical Education and Nutrition program.