High School Students Commit 43 Ways to Be Healthy and Successful
Coming in from a work visit to one of his students’ high school, Toronto Fire Department superintendent Ryan Pearsall is startled to find a gymnasium filled with black-plaid t-shirts and students waiting to fill out a scary survey. His student’s son is one of the students who’s reading to the students, and he wonders if the principal is going to give his son the answers to the questionnaire. But he’s also worried that if the survey isn’t an honest process, and there’s not some sort of answer limit, the students will be put in danger.
This brings up the question for Pearsall: “If our high school is testing everything and students can’t answer some of the questions that they really need to know, and there’s no answer limit, and they are taken advantage of because they don’t know enough, how are they going to protect their young minds?”
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The answer to Pearsall’s question was found within the gymnasium: The senior class had just done a 32-question survey with every student providing their middle-school GPA, cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, uric acid and lactate levels, body mass index, the first time they were taught to breathe correctly, their IQ and a few other important statistics. Here’s what the 34-question survey asked:
What physical activity is most commonly practiced in the school year? Does the high school have a gymnasium that students can use when there is no organized sport schedule? Does anyone smoke? How does the high school rate violence on the campus? How well do the seniors take taking the SATs? How did this student do on the previous year’s report card? How many students take SAT and ACT tests? What percentage of students have never smoked in their lives? Is your parents giving you any hard time? What is your weight? Why don’t you brush your teeth more often?
When the survey data was analyzed, several surprising information came to light: Teenagers are actually pretty savvy when it comes to nutrition, meds and even basic health measures like breathing. But most shocking was the fact that fewer than half of the students from grades 9-12 were on the official school menus, only a third brought their lunch to school each day and less than half of their GPAs came from home school.
This data didn’t stop the principal and his staff from implementing measures to make sure the graduation to students in grades 9-12 had an authentic American-style graduation ceremony at a sporting event, or from turning the school’s decline into an empowerment and prideful movement. And there’s just as much of a message to the teenagers as there is to their parents.
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Like many other schools, St. Elizabeth Catholic High School in Scarborough, Ontario, may not be perfect, but they care about and encourage their students to reach their goals and measure up with their peers in academic achievement, leadership, health and success. With more than half of their senior class involved in at least one international language, the school is dedicated to instilling its youth with values, and the 34-question survey was a big part of that. As a parent, this is what you want your kids to focus on, and with the help of one high school, it became a reality for every student.