El Monte Achieves Gold with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Little Rock, AK - On October 21, 2012 the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Asociation and the William J. Clinton Foundation, recognized 250-plus schools from around the country for transforming their campuses into healthier places for students and staff.
President Bill Clinton and American Heart Association President Donna Arnett, Ph.D. honored these schools for their healthy achievements during the Healthy Schools Program Forum in Little Rock, Ark.
The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program provides support and training, at no cost, to more than 15,000 schools nationwide to help them reverse the national trend in childhood obesity. Schools are eligible for Bronze, Silver, or Gold National Recognition Awards based on their level of achievement in creating healthy eating and physical activity programs that meet or exceed the stringent standards set by the Alliance.
The following schools from El Monte received National Recognition Awards (INCLUDING ONE OF THE TWO 2012 GOLD SCHOOLS): Cleminson Elementary School, El Monte, CA -GOLD – The cafeteria at Cleminson Elementary School in El Monte, Calif., is no ordinary cafeteria. Nowhere else can ordinary students eat “x-ray vision carrots” or an “ironman spinach salad.”
Cleminson Principal Lillian Prince takes great pride in the health and well being of her students, and goes to great lengths to make sure the students at her school embrace the healthier choices that the staff provides.
“We’re really sales people,” she said. “We’re selling a product, and how well we sell the product equals how well the children do.”
Cleminson, in fact, is one of two schools in the country that the Alliance for a Healthier Generation recognized with a Gold National Recognition Award in 2012. Cleminson is also one of the top-scoring schools in its district, academically.
“We get the big picture,” said Mary Jones, the Wellness Coordinator for El Monte School District. “We understand that there is a direct connection between student wellness and academic achievement.”
At Cleminson, physical activity and nutrition are incorporated throughout the entire curriculum and the entire school day. Celebrity chefs demonstrate nourishing recipes to the kids and teachers lead a minute of exercise in every class (the focus of a recent KABC-TV segment). The school also offers programs in soccer, football, other team sports, a large selection of books on health and wellness in the school library, and plenty of physical education offerings to help keep the kids on track.
New Lexington Elementary School, El Monte, CA - BRONZE – New Lexington Elementary is not simply focusing its efforts on offering healthier options, but also trying to shift student taste buds slightly to the healthier side. Candy is no longer a reward on campus and fruit and vegetables are gaining popularity. The school wellness council has implemented a healthy fruit and vegetable program that includes a harvest of the month produce box. This way students are introduced to new healthy options seasonally as well as a consistent cafeteria menu that is regularly filled with new healthier items.
Potrero Elementary School, El Monte, CA - SILVER – “We have moved from a culture of knowing what needs to be done to be healthier to a ‘let’s do something about it!’ culture,” said Principal Liz Raymond. Raymond reports that their efforts to create a healthier school have resulted in many staff members losing weight and a higher attendance rate for students. Staff can exercise after school in the fitness lab, enjoy healthy snacks at meetings and participated in an onsite Weight Watchers group. The cafeteria has removed all high fat items and they are serving only whole grain breads. A group of parents walk together every day right after the bell rings and the PTA is all about raising money through Jog-a-thons, Walk-a-thons and Math-a-thons.
Wilkerson Elementary School, El Monte, CA – SILVER – Teachers at Wilkerson Elementary have seen what a difference it makes to have students engage in physical activity before sitting down for a long period of academics or a standardized test. Now walking before tests is a common practice at this school, along with the jog-a-thons and healthy snacks provided for students. School staff are taking advantage of a Weight Watchers group that meets at the school as well as a Zumba class that is open to staff and parents. The administration said that they have seen their Academic Performance Indicator score go from 723 to 804 since they joined the Healthy Schools Program two years ago.