Buffalo Jones wins Healthy School grant





Buffalo Jones Elementary School has won the national Healthy School Makeover competition, resulting in the school receiving a $45,000 Healthy School Makeover Grant.

The announcement was made Monday at the school.

Third-grade teacher Kerri Steelman submitted a video, and voters had until Nov. 14 to vote for the school they felt was most worthy of receiving the grant. More than 300 schools competed for the prize. Votes were limited to one per day.

Steelman said she spent a few weeks collecting video footage of people in the community, school employees and different people who have worked with the students and families in the Buffalo Jones community.

Casey Wise, head of USD 457's instructional technology department, helped Steelman edit the video.

Steelman said winning the Healthy School Makeover Grant will benefit the students. She said she is particularly excited the school will be able to participate in the SPARK program, which is a national research-based organization that disseminates evidence-based physical education, after school, early childhood and coordinated school health programs to teachers and recreation leaders, according to its website.

"I am just so thrilled for what this will mean for our kids," she said. "I've talked to other teachers in other districts who say the SPARK program is the best equipment and programming and training they've ever used.¬ The kids stay engaged and enthusiastic.¬ It's movement, activity, nutrition ... everybody participates.¬ It's incredible to think that it was a nationwide competition for a single $45,000 grand prize, and our school won," she said.

The school will receive materials and training next year in the program.¬ Materials the school will receive include:

* SPARK curriculum and training package.

* Equipment package aligned with SPARK program (standard level).

* Healthy Kids Challenge: "Balance My Day" nutrition curriculum package and webinar training.

* Customized Lets Move in School training package.

* Two Let's Move in School Skillastics packages and training.

* Health Lifestyle Choices Curriculum and Training package.

* GenMove equipment, programming and training package (equipment is GM propriety products, including MultiGoals and GenMove Balls).

* First Tee National School Program (curriculum, training and equipment).

* Polar Active classroom pack.

Rafaela Solis, principal, said school officials were surprised the school won.

"Of course, we weren't expecting it. There were so many applicants," she said.

Solis said school officials are committed to making sure they get everything they are supposed to receive through the grant.

"We are still not quite sure of everything that is involved. But we are excited and eager to see what it brings to our community," she said, adding that the school also plans to share.

"If we can't use everything, maybe we'll be able to share — to share our wealth," she said.

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