MONTANA OFFICE OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION

BIG SKY – The Big Sky School District has joined an exclusive national group, earning three prestigious Bronze Awards in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s HealthierUS School Challenge program.

The HUSSC program recognizes schools creating healthy environments by promoting excellence in nutrition and physical activity. Ophir Elementary School, Ophir Middle School and Lone Peak High School are three of 27 Montana schools to receive a HUSSC award since 2006 – making them one of the healthiest districts in the nation.

“Properly nourished students equates to higher achievement in the classroom and in our activities programs,” said Big Sky School Superintendent Jerry House. The district’s new healthy meal plan complements the Health Education goals it has set for all students, he added.

Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Denise Juneau, commended the Big Sky School District, saying schools receiving these awards are “models for schools across the state because they demonstrate their commitment to the health and wellness of Montana children.”

Food Service Manager Kathy Hudson and Supt. Jerry House led the HUSSC application process, along with broad-based support from the school’s wellness committee, health and physical activity staff, including Athletic Director Tony Beardsley.

Big Sky’s school meals are prepared from scratch with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy foods, lean protein choices and whole grain foods.

“It’s nice to see the kids enjoying all the varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Hudson said. In addition, she has created positive changes in a la carte offerings (foods and beverages sold separately); these items meet nutrition guidelines, as well.

The high priority placed on physical activity and physical education along with innovative programs to increase students’ physical activity were another key reason for the Bronze recognition of Big Sky’s schools.

Beardsley, also a Health Enhancement teacher, has created fun ways to get kids up and moving, such as downhill and Nordic skiing, outdoor adventure activities, a “Fit for Life” elective class, swimming and intramural sports programs. Nutrition Education is provided to grades K-10 and includes guest speakers and parent involvement.

To qualify for the Bronze awards, Big Sky Schools submitted a detailed application documenting adherence to the HealthierUS School Challenge criteria for lunch menus, nutrition education, opportunities for physical activity and a local school wellness policy.

The school will receive $1,500 from USDA to support its school meals program.

Parents and community members are encouraged to visit the school and enjoy a school lunch. Call the Big Sky School District at (406) 995-4281 to schedule and be added to the lunch count.