- Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
Morris Grove Elementary Celebrates a Month of Wellness
By Stuart Phillips, CHCCS Communications Specialist
Thanks to the efforts of School Nurse Lara Statile, Morris Grove Elementary School has a longstanding tradition of celebrating Wellness not only throughout the school year, but with a special focus each April. This year’s celebration is the first one since the pandemic, and every student and staff member learned about Physical Activity, Nutrition and Hydration, Mindfulness and Sleep, with a week designated as a focus for each area of wellness.
Statile spoke about her choice to serve as a school nurse in a March 2018 profile by Chapel Hill Magazine. “School nursing allows for a different opportunity: encountering mostly healthy children and keeping them that way.” Since that profile was published and COVID-19 emerged, she’s surely had to focus on a wider range of illnesses and tasks, as all of our nurses have done. But Statile never takes her eye off the ball of baseline wellness and empowering both children and adults to take greater ownership of their physical and mental health.
Physical Activity was the first week’s focus. Staff members read different facts and tips on the morning news, students and staff recorded their favorite fitness choice on a large hallway poster (dancing, baseball and basketball were big vote getters!), students were encouraged to run between designated markers on the playground to experience running a mile, and on Thursday of that week, classes held dance parties in their rooms before the bell rang.
Next up was Nutrition and Hydration. Students received a Fruit and Veggie tracker for the week, and they recorded their favorite healthy snacks on a poster by the gym. Students and staff signed BIG water droplets outside their classrooms to pledge they would replace sugary drinks with water for the week. Fifth grade student Ava Neville said, "My favorite part of Wellness Month was Nutrition Week. It encouraged me to eat an apple every day. That made me feel healthier."
The main event of Nutrition Week was the Wednesday “Morris Grove Night at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market” with face-painting, crafts and a market scavenger hunt that included squares like “Vendor who sells eggs,” and “Farmer who can name two types of brassicas.” Older students helped run the facepainting table, and children of all ages crowded around the craft table to make windsocks. Fifth grade TA, Kate Celauro, said, "It was so much fun to see kids leading crafts for all of the many children who came to the Farmers Market that day! I saw kids sampling healthy snacks under the pavilion and purchasing vegetables with tokens they earned from completing the fun scavenger hunt. My own kids came home with spring onions, sweet potatoes, and strawberries that we ate that night. It was a wonderful experience."
The third week was devoted to Mindfulness, with a particular attention for staff, in addition to students. An after school Restorative Yoga class was offered to staff one afternoon, and they received a mindfulness video each day. In PE classes, the students experienced the practice of mindfulness integrated into their activities, and on that Friday, each class observed Mindful Minutes. Teachers were encouraged to ask students about their favorite ways to calm their bodies, and they learned to observe how they felt after taking calming breaths, or other strategies. Kindergarten student, Beau Olinger, said about mindfulness exploration, "Those activities help me feel calm and ready for learning!"
Finally, during the fourth week, students learned about the importance of Sleep. Each day they learned facts about sleep on the school’s morning news, and in classrooms, teachers led discussions to share bedtime routines, as well as share how they felt after getting a good night’s sleep.
Throughout the month, students could fill in their own bingo cards to record their experiences. Faye Munday, a second grade student, said, "I liked the Wellness bingo board because it got me to do healthy stuff like drink six cups of water."
Who knew that spending a month learning about Wellness could bring so much joy and fun? The Morris Grove community definitely knows now! Thank you to Nurse Lara and all who contributed to the activities! And thank you to all of our School Nurses – we celebrate you this week and every week!
CHCCS District Headlines stories are written on a regular basis by the CHCCS Division of Communications, with assistance from a network of school-based “storytellers” who share tips and ideas throughout the school year. The goal is to share real-world examples of the CHCCS Strategic Plan in action. Know about a story worth telling from your school? Contact the CHCCS Communications team at firstname.lastname@example.org.