Building a Healthy Mississippi

Ocean Springs High School is Mississippi's Healthiest School for 2018

Grant Awarded: $50,000


Ocean Springs High School won a Healthy School Award in 2016, and continued its success by being named “Mississippi’s Healthiest School” in 2018. The school has made significant progress in enhancing its wellness goals, including offering free health screenings and fun fitness challenges with incentives for faculty and staff.

The school adopted a “Healthy School Environment” policy in 2017 that resulted in high-calorie snacks in vending machines being replaced with healthier options, a two or three minute walking break provided during classroom instruction, and opportunities offered to participate in healthy activities before and after school two days each week. With the policy in place, Ocean Springs High school partnered with the Mayor’s Youth Council to engage students in council meetings to promote health and wellness. The school also partnered with the local YMCA to host weekly yoga classes onsite at the school for faculty, staff and students at no cost.

With the $50,000 grant award, Ocean Springs High School plans to enhance the health and nutrition curricula, including upgrading the classroom kitchen for healthy cooking demonstrations and tasting opportunities for faculty, staff and students and their families.

2018 Healthy School - Oxford Intermediate School

Grant Awarded: $25,000

Oxford Intermediate School

In alignment with one of the overall strategic goals established by the Oxford School District, Oxford Intermediate School reinforces healthy behaviors to impact students’ academic achievement as studies show health and learning go hand-in-hand. Classroom teachers prepare lesson plans that incorporate physical activities, such as posting math puzzles throughout the hallway, to challenge students to work while moving from puzzle to puzzle.

Oxford Intermediate School partnered with the University of Mississippi to encourage faculty, staff and students to adopt healthy lifestyles. The university’s health and wellness initiative funded by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation and known as RebelWell, offers free fitness challenges and healthy cooking classes to faculty and staff. For students, RebelWell hosts health fairs onsite at the school and provides students with opportunities to taste a variety of fruits each week on “Fresh Fruit Friday.”

With a shared use agreement in place between the City of Oxford and the Oxford School District, Oxford Intermediate School plans to use the $25,000 grant award to install outdoor fitness equipment for use by faculty, staff, students and members of the community.

2018 Healthy School - Poplarville Lower Elementary School

Grant Awarded: $25,000

Poplarville Lower Elementary School

Poplarville Lower Elementary School thrives on providing an environment where students learn the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. With health and wellness as one of the Poplarville School District’s overall strategic goals, policies were adopted to integrate health education into all subject areas.

The Poplarville Lower Elementary school garden program takes an instructional approach to teach across academic disciplines like math and science. Students learn to conduct structured experiments and communicate outcomes related to planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables. A local chef volunteers time twice each month to come onsite and teach the students how to prepare the fruits and vegetables grown in the garden. Members of Wildcat Wellness, the health and wellness initiative at Pearl River Community College funded by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, volunteer time each week to lead students in fun fitness activities onsite at the school.

With the $25,000 grant award, Poplarville Lower Elementary School plans to create a wellness center outfitted with exercise equipment designed to improve cardiovascular fitness. The school also plans to purchase a mobile cart that can be moved from classroom to classroom and includes curricula and items needed to demonstrate how to make healthy snacks without using a stove or oven.

About the Judges

Healthy School Awards applications are evaluated by a panel of known health and wellness champions from across Mississippi. Judges for the 2018 Healthy School Awards Program were: