As the school year kicks off, youngest Newaygo County students CATCH up with nutrition, wellness program
FREMONT– To the sounds of children reciting the alphabet or laughing in hallways, add some new sounds in elementary schools throughout Newaygo County’s five school districts: lessons on nutrition and Zumba sessions in the gym.
These and other activities, woven into the curriculum of K-5th-grade students in Hesperia, White Cloud, Grant, Fremont, and Newaygo are part of the nationally recognized Coordinated Approach to Child Health, or CATCH, program. Piloted in White Cloud and Hesperia last school year, the program is spearheaded by Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial in partnership with the districts and Michigan State University Extension. Focusing on helping students embrace nutritious eating habits and physical activities, educators from Gerber Memorial are sharing easy-to-understand information ranging from how much sugar is in a can of pop and how to work fresh unprocessed affordable foods into kids’ daily diets, to easy fun exercises for school and home.
Researchers generally find that a higher quality diet is associated with better performance on exams, and that programs focused on increasing students’ health also show improvements in students’ academic test scores.
“The evidence is mounting that healthy kids are better learners. Schools play an important role in shaping our children’s health and wellness. Improved nutrition and increasing physical activity at school can create an environment that supports children’s readiness to learn,” explains Jena Zeerip, community health program lead at Gerber Memorial.
Upper elementary students will begin receiving 30-minute CATCH lessons starting in October, with lessons scheduled every other week, totaling eight by the end of January. Lower elementary students will begin in February and will also receive 30-minute CATCH lessons. The CATCH lessons are being slated this year for Grant, Hesperia, and Newaygo K- to 4th-grade students; 3rd- to 5th-grade students in Fremont; and K- to 5th-grade students in White Cloud.
Nearly 50 colleges, universities, trade schools, and military organizations were represented at College and Career Night Out on September 28.
Held at Fremont High School, the annual event drew hundreds of students and families from across Newaygo County to learn more about post-secondary education, career opportunities, and financial aid. WE CAN! Newaygo County—the local career and college access network—and Fremont Area Community Foundation organized and sponsored the event.
Melissa Miller, WE CAN! coordinator, said that the event was designed to streamline the college and career decision process for local students.
“With so many factors that can influence a student’s decision to pursue higher education or training, this event continues to serve families in this process by bringing numerous resources and current information under one roof,” said Miller. “Families are able to make connections, get their questions answered, and hopefully realize there are many resources to support them as they navigate this selection process.”
Attendees enjoyed free pizza, spoke to college and career representatives, learned more about scholarships, and were able to attend informational sessions on financial aid and college affordability, hot jobs in West Michigan, and how to choose a college.
The college and career fair included a wide variety of public and private colleges, trade schools, and military branches. Representatives came from as far as Alabama and as close as schools with classes right in Newaygo County. Students and parents could ask questions, compare programs, and explore financial aid opportunities.
Other partners with a presence at the event included Early College Newaygo County, Gerber Foundation, Michigan Works! West Central, Newaygo County Area Promise Zone, Newaygo County Career-Tech Center, Telamon, and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. College advisors and high school counselors were also available to check in with students and answer questions.
“I loved how organized and educational it was,” said Ali Dronchi, a senior at Fremont High School. “All the staff and college representatives were so helpful and approachable. It truly was a key-turning experience for my college readiness. It was a really great way to talk to all the colleges I’m interested in without traveling, and it was free!”
Fremont Area Community Foundation’s scholarship application for high school seniors and medical students is now open. The online application opened on October 1 and will close on March 1.
Each year, the Community Foundation awards hundreds of scholarships to college-bound students and residents pursuing career training. The online application is opening earlier this year to coincide with Michigan College Month, which takes place in October. The statewide campaign focuses on supporting seniors as they complete important steps in the college-going process like applying to schools and for financial aid.
“Opening our scholarship application in October will be a great fit with Michigan College Month,” said Robin Cowles, FACF scholarship and technology manager, noting that the change was made based on feedback from local educators. “Now, while students are already working on completing college applications and filing their FAFSA, they can also start on their Community Foundation scholarship application.”
By completing the Community Foundation’s general scholarship application, students will be considered for more than 90 scholarships. High school students interested in applying must live in or attend a high school in Newaygo County.
The Community Foundation also offers scholarships to local adult students who have been out of high school for at least two years and/or have a gap in their post-secondary education. The scholarship application for adult students is open year-round.
All scholarship applications must be submitted online. For more information or to apply, visit facommunityfoundation.org/scholarships.