America's Healthiest Schools: Beryl Heights Elementary School

Beryl Heights Elementary School in Redondo Beach 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.

At Beryl Heights Elementary School, everyone is involved in creating a healthier school environment. The school’s staff are leading the way with activity breaks during staff meetings and only stocking healthy snacks in the teacher’s lounge. The school’s students have followed suit: they’re running laps around the track for at least 10 minutes each day, participating in the school’s Walking School Bus program and enjoying healthier meals options thanks to salad bars in the cafeteria.

Students have taken an active role in the school’s healthy changes, too. Students in second through fifth grade completed a survey where they weighed in on the types of foods they like and dislike, helping inform the options available to them during meals and snacks. Fifth grade students were also included on the wellness council, offering feedback to inform the school’s wellness programs.

The school’s success with the Healthy Schools Program is proving that healthy kids learn better. “Our state test scores were outstanding and increased across the board,” said Principal Karen Mohr. “Students were better behaved, could pay attention longer and participated more frequently in class due to increased movement.”

And thanks to the school’s holistic approach to health, Principal Mohr reports that staff are also happier now that they’re paying attention to their food choices and staying active throughout the day.