Healthy focus pays off for Hokes Bluff Middle School


By Donna Thornton/News Editor

The staff at Hokes Bluff Middle School – from the children nutrition program employees to the teachers – embraced the “Fuel Up to Play 60” program this year, and it has paid off.

“Fuel Up to Play 60” is a national program founded by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League in collaboration with the USDA. The focus of the program is to encourage students to make small changes in their daily lives that will lead them to a healthier lifestyle. The goal is to get students eating healthier and being more active.

Earlier this year, the school staff went all out for National School Milk Day, with milking contests (not involving a real cow), a milk mustache photo booth and other activities in the school lunchroom, and they won first place in the nation for their efforts.

Recently the school hosted a food show with a variety of healthy food vendors and enjoyed a visit from University of Alabama and NFL player Thomas Rayam. Rayam maybe best-remembered by UA fans for the “Desperation Block” of a Penn State field goal attempt during the 1989 game.

The school received an incentive grant to continue the quest for healthier more active students, and the school’s Child Nutrition Program Manager Apache Smothers was named Etowah County School Support Personnel of the Year.

Hokes Bluff Middle School Principal Dena Cook said Smothers and the CNP staff have been the driving force behind the program, but teachers have gotten involved as well, bringing a nutritional focus to some classroom assignments.

Among them, Cory Nickels, 7th grade language arts teacher gave students the assignment of coming up with a recipe using the healthy ingredient oatmeal. Student Zack Estes brought in the winning recipe and made his oatmeal cookies for the school, Cook said.

To promote being active, 7th grade math teacher Lee Neal developed an obstacle course for students, then had them graph and plot their results on the course.

“We’ve really gotten the teachers involved,” Cook said.

In P.E., she said, the teachers have had Zumba class and there has even been a Zumba/Smoothie party. Hokes Bluff Middle School students participated Dec. 17 in “Hoops for Heart,” engaging in basketball tournaments all day, culminating in a faculty vs. students game.

As for what the school will do with the grant received as a result of all the efforts put into their “eat healthy/be active” activities, Cook said the prizes will provide their own healthy rewards too. There’s a possibility of a milk product vending machine for the school.

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