#8216;Healthy Schools#8217; honored

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

Eleven local schools have received kudos from the Ohio Department of Health for their efforts in keeping kids well fed, tobacco-free and physically fit.

The Buckeye Best Healthy School Awards, an arm of Gov. Bob Taft’s Healthy Ohioans program, reward districts for their programs aimed at keeping kids healthy and working at their full potential in the classroom. Some of these include nutritious lunch programs, innovative physical fitness opportunities and tobacco education courses.

The state announced this week schools that have been evaluated and ranked by the state in gold, silver and bronze categories. Those who received a recognition designation for their efforts were also announced.

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Chesapeake Elementary School was the only school in Lawrence County to receive a gold ranking. This is the second year in a row that the school has received the designation. Three years ago the school was a silver designee.

Jack Finch, Chesapeake principal, said he and his staff have worked to provide an all-around positive educational experience for the students, which includes keeping them healthy.

Last school year, Finch said the elementary took two big steps to promote healthy eating habits. The school started serving free breakfast to every student and also nixed pop and snack machines. They have also partnered with King’s Daughters Medical Center for physical fitness activities at the school.

“This is a collaborative effort. The board, the staff and the cooks all work together and we try to provide the best that we can for our kids,” Finch said. “We feel it is a very prestigious award.”

All but one of the schools in the Fairland School District received state recognition. Fairland High School received a silver ranking, while Fairland East and Fairland West elementaries were given bronze awards.

The district has tried to step up its efforts recently to improve health among its students. Ken Ratliff, Fairland district food service director and administrative assistant, said the school has started a breakfast program and is now offering salads in place of traditional school lunches.

“We have a really solid food program and we hardly ever get any complaints,” Ratliff said.

Symmes Valley High School was another school that received a silver rating. Burlington Elementary School received bronze and the Collins Career and Technical Center, South Point Middle School, South Point Elementary and South Point High School received recognition as well.

The awards are based on applications sent in by the school districts. The districts are ranked on the programs they offer in the areas of tobacco use prevention, nutrition and physical education. Health professionals judge each application.