Ocean Springs High School Takes First Place in Wellness
By: Kara Martinez Bachman
Schools aren’t just for teaching reading, writing and arithmetic; they’re also for instilling good behaviors and habits that aren’t always so easy to measure with standardized tests.
The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation has found a way, however, to evaluate Mississippi’s schools for their ability to impart messages and behaviors generally associated with “wellness.”
Awards were recently announced for schools deemed best at promoting “healthy eating, physical activity, staff wellness, tobacco-free lifestyles among students and staff, and parental and community involvement.”
Ocean Springs High School took top honors statewide. The Jackson County school brought pride to the coast when named “The Healthiest School in Mississippi.” Ocean Springs High School received a $50,000 award, to be used in further enhancing the school’s wellness programs.
Another winner hailing from South Mississippi was Poplarville Lower Elementary, of Pearl River County, which received a Healthy School Award and $25,000 to use in its wellness programs.
The Healthy School Awards were judged by an independent panel of Mississippi leaders in education and youth services. Parents & Kids magazine publisher, Gretchen Cook, was among the judges who made the winning selections for 2018.
“The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is encouraged by the positive changes we are seeing in our K-12 schools,” said Sheila Grogan, executive director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, in an official statement about the awards.
“When schools create cultures that emphasize wellness, it helps to instill healthy habits across the organization from faculty and staff to students and parents,” Grogan said. “These are lessons that will last a lifetime, helping to shape a healthier future for our state.”
In addition to the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, The Healthy School Awards were also supported by the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents.
The criteria for the award were based on state and national school health standards, and the goal is “to motivate Mississippi schools as they create and maintain healthy school environments.”
Learn more at Healthiermississippi.org.
Kara Martinez Bachman is an author, editor, and mom to two wonderful teenage children.