Success Story: Healthy Kids, The Washington Jesuit Academy Way
Let’s Move! has certainly touched on a nerve in this country. And a good nerve it is. I just got finished teaching my 7th grade Health and Wellness class where we discussed Body Mass Index and calculated the BMI numbers for each student. When I asked the question, “Why should we know and keep track of our BMI?”, two answers stood out. One boy responded, “because we need to be aware of our bodies so we can help prevent conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and strokes.” Impressive for a 7th grader. The second answer was a fun one. His response was “because I think it is part of Let’s Move!”. People are listening. Even 7th grade boys from Washington Jesuit Academy.
Washington Jesuit Academy, here in our nation’s capital, is a unique middle school for boys. We have a twelve hour day (7:30am-7:30pm) and an eleven month program (mandatory seven week summer program). All of our young men are on scholarship and 80% qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program. We have over 2 hours a day of exercise and team sports time, we eat three healthy well-balanced meals a day (thanks to our partners at DC Central Kitchen and Fresh Start), we have a cooking club that often uses herbs and vegetables from our own garden and each student, on average, reads 26 books a year. Let’s Move! is alive and well at WJA. I firmly believe, in fact, I know, all of these elements have a positive impact in the classroom as well. Mind and body is surely nourished here at WJA. We “move” a great deal. Additionally, the median national percentile score for the Class of 2010 increased over 40% in total test on standardized testing from entrance to exit. Good teaching and good food = great results.
Let’s Move! is not just about eating right and getting a good amount of exercise each day. It is a lifestyle and if we hope to “combat childhood obesity” and “raise a healthier and happier generation of kids” we need all hands on deck. We at Washington Jesuit Academy are behind it and I know many others are as well. Kudos to the work being done on the “ground floors” and at the national levels as we raise children to be happier and healthier (and stronger students). To quote one of our teachers here at WJA, it is time to “get at it”.
Joseph Powers is Headmaster at Washington Jesuit Academy