Howard-Winneshiek incorporates activity into the classroom

posted on Monday, September 8, 2014

Students, faculty, and administrators from Howard-Winneshiek Community School District (Howard-Winn) gathered at the Crestwood High School gymnasium on Friday, Sept. 5 for a “kick-off to wellness” celebration for the 2014-15 school year. The crowd was greeted at an assembly that afternoon by the District’s pep band, as well as the cheerleaders who got everyone up on their feet, enjoying some aerobic exercise by teaching a brand new Crestwood Spirit Dance set to an upbeat tune.

Crestwood Band members energize the crowd with upbeat selections as they enter the high school gym for the Wellness Celebration on Friday.

Administrators additionally took the gym floor to announce a variety of ways they enjoy staying active and fit. For Activities Director / Dean of Students, Brian Hilsabeck, this means walking his dogs. Meanwhile, PK-1 Principal / Dir. of Teaching & Learning, Sara Grimm, announced that when she was a kid, her favorite stay-fit activity was “Recess!” In this day and age, however, she enjoys running; having worked up from 5Ks, to 10Ks, to half marathons, to full marathons. For District Superintendent, John Carver, staying fit and active means swimming and kick-boxing.

Cheerleaders teach students and staffers a new Crestwood Spirit Dance at the District-wide Wellness Celebration at school on Friday afternoon. The goal was to get everyone up and moving, promoting physical activity and fun!

Junior High Science Teacher, Crystal Hegg, who also serves as a member of the Wellness Committee at Howard-Winn, says there is a drive between both the Committee and the current Administration to incorporate aerobic activity into the classroom atmosphere. “The elementary students take what we call ‘Brain Breaks’,” she said, “and at the junior high and high school we have activities during Homebase time, whether it’s running in place, jumping jacks, or doing a little dance to stay active.”

Hegg further says the Wellness Committee and Administration had wanted to kick-off the school year with the message that there are different ways for students to stay active. “It doesn’t have to be a sport, they can just play and have fun,” she said.

Following the assembly, students went outside for the remainder of the school day to play and enjoy the bouncy houses, and even some healthy fruit smoothies provided by Food Services at Howard-Winn. “It’s all part of our ‘Fuel Up to Be Fit’ theme for the whole school year,” said Hegg.

Cheryl Dickman, Director of Food Services/Nutrition and also a member of the Wellness Committee, explains further: “We do this because we like to have a get-together where we are showing the positive aspects of physical activity and healthy eating to students,” she said, adding, “We apply for grants to do the celebration, and we received a ‘Fuel Up to Play 60’ grant. The Physical Activity Play this year was to be active in the classroom. We also get a Healthy Eating Activity through this grant, which is where the cost of the smoothies came from.”

Students and their teachers get “on their feet” to learn the Crestwood Spirit Dance.

Dickman and the Wellness Committee announce they are additionally at the beginning stages of constructing a website for students, faculty, administrators, and even community members to find healthy eating ideas, likely including recipes. The group also envisions displaying resources and contact information for various different entities, including (but not limited to): area anti-smoking, drug awareness, and physical/sexual assault prevention organizations. “We’d like to build on this [website] so that we have a central point for all of our entities to post their information for the community and for the kids, so they can go online to get the information they need,” she said. “Hopefully, eventually we’ll have more nutritional ideas on the website as well, but it’s a work in progress right now. We’re still in the planning stages.”

As for the “kick off to wellness” event, Dickman says she hopes officials can keep it going every year for students at Howard-Winn. “We need to keep the physical activity and healthy eating part going because with all of the technology in this day and age, the kids need to remember that staying fit is a big part of life, too,” she said.

Several Howard-Winn Wellness Committee members head outside to serve healthy smoothies to students and staff following the assembly inside the gym. Pictured (from left): Chris Bourassa, Deb Obermann, Diana Huhe, and Cheryl Dickman.

* Special thanks to Keri Schatz for providing pictures and Howard-Winneshiek Community School District for submitting this Iowa success story.