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BOE honored for taking steps to Dance, Dance
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The Effingham County Board of Education was recognized for having all of its elementary and middle schools meet the criteria to receive a Dance, Dance Revolution system as a part of the Live Healthy Georgia program.

Marsha Cornell, nursing coordinator, thanked the board for taking time to meet.

“We want to toot some horns that reflect on you all, and our county,” Cornell said.

The Live Healthy Georgia program the district is involved in comes from the governor’s Live Healthy Georgia campaign.

“It’s a series of activities that we’re doing in our schools to implement our wellness policies, and we’ve had some real exciting results,” Cornell said.

Marsha Pierce, the school health coordinator for the Coastal Health District, congratulated the system and said it is the first in her district to make this accomplishment.

Five elements on a puzzle for students involve eating healthy, being active, being smoke free, being positive and getting checked, according to Pierce.

“We have taken that a step further in our Coastal Health District to create a program that assists schools to actually implement the wellness policy that was implemented back in 2004 by federal legislation,” Pierce said.

The policy also has five elements, two of which address nutrition practice and education in the classroom. It also addresses physical activity.

Pierce said the legislation was created to fight “the childhood obesity epidemic.”

“I know that everyone has heard about that,” she said. “It is a very real problem in the United States, and it is a growing problem. Unless we can turn things around, it’s going to eventually have the potential to create real economic havoc in the United States, as well as impact other areas such as the military, business and our total economy.”

Pierce said the program was created to address student issues and also issues with faculty and staff wellness.

One of the prerequisites of participating in the program is that the school system must have a tobacco free policy in place. Pierce congratulated the system for having the foresight to pass

that policy and for being the seventh school district in the state to enact such a policy.

Pierce told the board that one in six deaths are related to tobacco use. She said the primary causes of health problems in the state are tobacco, lack of physical activity and a poor diet.

Pierce said healthy students attend school and are mentally prepared to learn, and it is important to work to keep students healthy.

Superintendent Randy Shearouse thanked the nurses for their work.

“I know a lot of you have implemented wellness plans at your school, and some have the ‘Biggest Loser’ going on, and I think that’s great for our faculty,” he said. “Attendance is important for our employees and for our kids as well.”

Shearouse said there are teachers who have signed up for the wellness program for faculty and staff in the system, and the system is still within the budget for that program to continue.

“At the superintendent’s advisory committee I continue to get thank yous from schools because this employee had already lost a good many pounds and attributed it to being part of our program,” he said.

Also Wednesday, the board approved the previously proposed graduation requirements to take effect with the students beginning their ninth grade year in the 2008-2009 school year.

The board also approved using the second lowest bidder for phase one of construction for the new Effingham County Middle School because the lowest bidder did not meet the requirements set by the board.

Slade Helmly, director of administrative services, said the work would begin as early as the upcoming week.