Ennis schools honored for healthy students program with national award

Over the past few years, a lot of hard work has gone on in the Ennis School system to improve the health of their students.

This summer those efforts were recognized with awards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture HealthierUS School Challenge program.

The school, led by elementary and junior high principal Brian Hilton, applied for the award last school year. The application for the award detailed how the school’s lunch menus, nutrition education and physical education adhered to standards set by the HealthierUS School Challenge program.

This summer, the program announced the Ennis Elementary and Junior High School won the gold award and the high school won the silver award. Ennis is the 26th school in Montana to win the award since 2006. With the award, the school will receive $4,000 to continue to support their school meals program, according to a press release issued by the Montana Office of Public Instruction Tuesday.

Officials from OPI will present the award to the Ennis School officials Tuesday at 1 p.m. Parents and community members are invited to come to the school for lunch and attend the awards presentation. Lunch is served from 11 to 12:15 p.m. and people planning on coming for lunch need to RSVP to the school by noon on Monday.

The award is an honor for the school, but the plan is to continue to push forward, Hilton said.

“It’s exciting for our school and the things we have in place, but it also serves as kind of a springboard to keep working toward wellness,” he said. “There’s still a lot of things we can do and we know that.”

The award recognizes a lot of work done by staff, teachers and community members at the school, Hilton said.

Tammy Wham, the school’s food service manager, has worked diligently to provide students with fresh healthy meals, he said. Wham has worked closely with people from the Madison Farm to Fork program and their Farm to School initiative. This has incorporated fresh produce from local greenhouses and fun food tasting events.

The farm to school program has also helped develop nutritional education curriculum for the school as well.

Natasha Hegemann works with the farm to school program and said the success at the school has involved a lot of work from a lot of different people. And like Hilton, she sees the work just beginning.

“I think the school community has goals to go above and beyond and to keep improving,” she said. “It’s really a collaborative thing.”

For more information on the award or to RSVP for lunch on Tuesday, Oct. 2, call the Ennis Schools at 682-4258.

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