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America's Healthiest Schools: La Quinta Middle School

La Quinta Middle School was named one of America’s Healthiest Schools by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The school met stringent standards set by the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program for serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students moving more, offering high-quality physical and health education and empowering school leaders to become healthy role models. Aside from home, kids spend most of their time at school, making schools important places to influence kids’ behavior and lifelong health habits. Research shows that healthy students learn better.

To uphold their motto, “Fitness School of Champions,” La Quinta Middle School provides students and staff with multiple opportunities to make healthy choices each day. The La Quinta Bulldogs participate in intramural tournaments during lunch time, compete in agility and obstacle courses on Fitness Fridays, and join the “Bulldog” running and conditioning program during physical education class. This year La Quinta Middle School hosted four schoolwide 2K races, which each attracted about 500 students and teachers hustling to the finish line.

Staff are committed to the school motto and having fun while finding ways to stay active, such as participating in fitness challenges and line dancing. Physical activity has become second nature to La Quinta Middle School students and staff, and they have also made it a priority to encourage healthy food choices at school. The school removed vending machines and aligned all foods served at school with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Smart Snacks in Schools standards. Each week on “Wellness Wednesday” students are able to try new fruits and vegetables as a snack.

Collectively, these changes have made a big impact on the school: test scores are higher, attendance is up, and discipline issues are down. “The wellness and fitness culture at La Quinta Middle School permeates the entire school program, from curriculum in the classroom to activities throughout the school day,” said Principal Janet Seto. “It includes awareness of nutrition and the need for physical movement, and incorporates the ‘fun’ factor. All students and staff are making healthy choices, and it is a known fact that if you are well, all things in life are better.”

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