Bay View Middle School named one of America’s Healthiest Schools
By Janelle Fisher
HOWARD – Bay View Middle School recently joined the ranks of America’s Healthiest Schools, a recognition awarded by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation based on a school’s dedication to advancing the physical, mental and social-emotional health of its students, staff and families.
The 2022 list of America’s Healthiest Schools includes 406 schools across 26 states and Bay View Middle School is one of two from Wisconsin that qualified.
The standards used in judging include increasing family and community engagement, strengthening social-emotional health and learning, cultivating staff well-being, improving nutrition and food access, implementing local school wellness policy, bolstering physical education and activity, promoting tobacco-free schools, enriching health education and supporting school health services.
Steve Meyers, the principal at Bay View Middle School, said this award reflects the many years of work the school has put into the health of its community.
“The school has a history of emphasizing school health and wellness and has earned state commendations throughout the past two decades,” he said. “These programs have provided direction on how to provide effective programs and services that will help students, staff, and families to learn and develop healthy habits and lives. The recognition validates the school’s prior work and motivates the school to now reach even higher.”
One program at Bay View Middle School in particular, Meyers said, gives students the tools to help each other live healthy lifestyles.
“One of our primary programming efforts has been the development of a student-based wellness leadership team called SWAG (Student Wellness Awareness Group),” he said. “Students who participate in SWAG learn about and promote wellness, fitness, and healthy lifestyles through a variety of school and community activities. These student leaders then promote and model to other students what they experience and learn. Teachers Kaitlyn Bieszk and Teresa Van Nuland are the club’s advisors and deserve a lot of credit for the school’s health and wellness standing.”
In addition to teachers who serve as advisors and mentors to the school’s wellness programs, Meyers said it is truly a team effort to implement programs and improve school health.
“Bay View didn’t earn the recognition alone,” he said. “By collaborating with Howard-Suamico School District departments such as Nutrition Services, Student Services, Teaching and Learning and Athletics, our health and wellness programs and services have strengthened. Kids have greater access and are eating healthier than ever at school. We have more student athletes participating. Physical education and health classes are more life-long skills based.”
Meyers said it’s not just physical health that the school is focused on, though.
“One of the greatest areas of increased emphasis and opportunities has been in the area of social-emotional health. Our student services department is supporting us in this important area.”
Meyers said that while the wellbeing of its students has always been a priority at Bay View, the effects of COVID-19 brought up several concerns related to social and emotional health which the school formed a plan to address.
“Coming out of the pandemic, the health and wellness of students has been a national concern — not only physical health, but socially and emotionally as well,” he said. “Our district, school, and parents saw this in our students. We heard concerns from them personally and through data in our surveys. In response, our School Improvement Coordinator, now Interim Bay View Principal, Heath Garland, led our staff in developing a school improvement plan that really got us focused. We developed a Wildly Important Goal (WIG) three years ago to focus on the social emotional health of our students. We have been targeting teaching and programming towards learning, developing skills, supporting, and connecting students to resources that will help them be healthier.”
This award doesn’t mean those efforts will end, though, Meyers said.
“Being named one of America’s Healthiest Schools is a strong validation of the impact and the benefits of the school’s efforts,” he said. “Yet, an award like this isn’t really an achievement recognizing that we have arrived. It is more of a mandate that we continue to model the work we’ve been doing and get even better. Our work won’t be done until every student is healthier and feels a greater sense of belonging. No one can argue that the healthier students, teachers, and families are, the more they will learn, grow, and be their best selves. We hope to be an American (even) Healthier School next year.”