Symsonia Elementary School has earned inclusion on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation 2019 list of America’s Healthiest Schools. It did so by achieving the Bronze Award for making changes that promote healthier eating and physical activity for students and staff.
“This award demonstrates our school’s commitment to fostering the health of our students and staff,” said principal Courtney Story. “Specifically, our school has received various grants over time, including one from Project Fit America and Baptist Health to promote healthy lifestyle choices for all students.”
Story especially credits physical education teacher Paige Guffey for developing fun opportunities for students to exercise.
“Research proves that kids who are more physically active are better off socially, emotionally, and cognitively,” Guffey noted. “So, that leads to better grades, less disruption, just overall better behavior. Exercise helps your brain.”
Her students recently demonstrated their enjoyment of highly active games on the playground for a couple of visiting reporters.
“We implemented a physical education and health scope and sequence for each grade level that is age appropriate,” Guffey explained. “We increased physical education and recess times for all students and created a family fitness night to involve students and families in the promotion of healthy living.” She hopes the fun her students have now will inspire them to continue a physically active lifestyle as adults.
The other side of the health equation is proper nutrition. Symsonia cafeteria manager Debbie Dew brings 33 years’ experience to her work, along with irrepressible energy, good humor, and an unmistakable love for people, especially kids.
“We teach them what a serving size looks like, how much to eat, and not to overeat,” she explained. “We say, you get ten chicken nuggets; that should be enough to fill you up… not 20 nuggets. So, hopefully, it gives kids a way to see and understand how to eat – portion size.”
Dew remembers years ago when schools sometimes served soft drinks and snack cakes. “Maybe 15 years ago, it changed,” she said. “Shelina McClain, our district’s food service director, has government guidelines we have to follow. So, we have to make sure the kids meet a certain criteria, limiting their intake of fat, sugar, and serving size. It makes it harder, but it’s better and we’re getting better at it.”
Symsonia Elementary School has earned inclusion on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation 2019 list of America’s Healthiest Schools. The school achieved the Bronze Award for making changes that promote healthier eating and physical activity for students and staff. Principal Courtney Story especially credits physical education teacher Paige Guffey for developing fun opportunities for students to exercise. Cafeteria manager Debbie Dew and her staff strive to teach students what appropriate serving sizes of various foods are.
(photo by Paul Schaumburg, Graves County Schools)