May 2011 Archives

National Garden Month winners!

Sharon Siehl
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April is National Garden Month, and this year I designed a competition to see which class could visit the garden the most.  The students recorded on a calendar the days that they watered, weeded, planted, or observed in the garden.  Teachers who assigned homework or an Earth Day activity were awarded extra credit points for their class.  The main point was to just get out to the garden and take advantage of all there is to learn and do there!

We had some extraordinary participation during April, which can be a tough month because of TAKS and other standardized testing.  However, the teachers and students were able to squeeze in a few moments to care for their garden or make observations in their journals. 

The winners at MacGregor Elementary was Mrs. Williams' truly motivated 4th grade class.  They did multiple garden activities almost every single day, including harvesting and tasting yellow and green beans.  Mrs. Williams even had the class do an "Earth Day Rap"--extra points! 

Each student won a cultivator to take home and start their own garden.   Congratulations Mrs. Williams class!

Brian Ching with RFS kids at Rodriguez

Gracie Cavnar
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In the classroom at Whittier Elementary School with Paul Cruz, age 9

Gracie Cavnar
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Paul Cruz.jpg

This month we made sweet zucchini mini muffins.  They tasted DELICIOUS! We mixed chocolate with the zucchini together and it smelled good too. 

We also did fruit cabob.  We put different kinds of fruit on stick, like strawberrys bananas, oranges, apples, watermelon, pears and mango.  It tasted good and it looked good.

Me and my Mom made fruit cabobs at home, too.  We used strawberry, orange, apple watermelon and pears.  It was delicious; the greatest taste.

In the garden we harvested the radishes because they were ready.  They were all sizes and colors: Red and big, red and small, white and big and white and small. They were rough when I took them out of the ground.

We also removed the lettuce and we weeded so the plants won't die.  I also saw mint leaves, sunflowers, tomatoes and egg plants in the garden.  I tasted the mint leaves and they were--minty!

Paul Cruz sig.png

Learning Has Never Been So Delicious and Fun!

Gracie Cavnar
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by Ms. Garza, PreK teacher, Whittier Elementary

whittier teacher.jpg     I am fortunate to have the dual job of being a volunteer and a classroom teacher.  Being on the front lines educating children in science can be a daunting task, but using innovative approaches like those offered by Recipe For Success makes the job so much more engaging and fun.   Having the support of RFS Team Leader, Chef Nicole Livezey is an added bonus.  Chef Nicole teaches our students the value of good nutrition and healthy eating, while at the same time reinforcing important science objectives found in the kitchen and garden.  Students learn without even realizing it, because food growing and preparation offers an abundance of resources to teach science. 

The garden is my favorite.  Spending time in the garden weeding, planting and harvesting offers so many opportunities for learning the importance of our earth's materials like soil and plants.  My PreK students have become expert weeders.  They learn to identify different plants and weeds.  We make a game of finding and pulling weeds by the roots.  One class of 4 year-olds was very diligent in getting to the roots, holding them up and shouting "las raíces, las raíces."  Kindergarten and 1st graders learn to sort and classify types of seeds for planting, while older students do the more difficult jobs of turning soil and preparing for planting. And of course everyone enjoys the harvesting.
Because our school is in an economically disadvantaged area, some of our students aren't normally exposed to such a variety of fresh vegetables.  Chef Nicole introduces them to many new vegetables they have never even seen, much less tasted.  All students are able to sample the bounty of our garden and they thoroughly enjoy it. Though the new tastes aren't always to their liking, they are willing to try everything.  Often they end up enjoying foods they did not like at first or didn't expect to like.

With the help of Recipe For Success and Chef Nicole, learning has never been so delicious and fun!! 

Let's Move with Beyonce

Gracie Cavnar
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The Texas House is Trying to Leave School Health on the Budget Cutting Floor

Gracie Cavnar
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If you don't think that intervention to keep this bill from passing is a priority, take a look at some data gathered by UT Health Science Center along with the Dell Center and CATCH and call your Texas State Congressperson and Senator today:

Why Coordinated School Health Programs are Important to Texas Youth
What are Coordinated School Health Programs? Coordinated School Health Programs were developed to incorporate health lessons and a healthy environment into the school day. These programs include classroom curricula, physical education, a cafeteria program that serves healthy foods, and a parent program that reinforces these concepts. Coordinated school health program elements are intended to provide an environment that supports healthy eating and activity for children.
Why Coordinated School Programs are Important:
Healthy Children are Better Learners. Academic achievement is correlated with physical fitness. Based on fitness and academic data from Texas schools, it has been shown that fitness levels, especially cardiovascular fitness levels, are associated with higher TAKS scores.i In addition, children who participated in coordinated school health programs that include minutes of physical activity/day have significantly higher standardized test scores. This effect is greater among children who have behavioral problems.
Coordinated School Health Programs can Decrease Child Obesity Levels. Three years of implementing a coordinated school health program with supporting community interventions in El Paso resulted in a decrease in rates of child overweight of 11% for girls and 9% for boys. ii Further data from the School Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) population‐based surveillance study found a 7% reduction in obesity among 4th grade students in the El Paso area where coordinated school health programs with supporting community health programs had been conducted.iii
Coordinated School Health Programs save Money. Implementing coordinated school health programs can save money by decreasing obesity. The cost‐effectiveness ratio of using a coordinated school health program (CATCH) was $889.68 (revealing the intervention costs per quality‐adjusted life years) and net benefit was $68,125 (comparison of the present value of averted future costs with the cost of the intervention).iv
New Data Show Increases in Obesity among High School Students as Health and Physical Education Requirements are Decreased. New data from the School Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) study, 2009‐2011, show that the rates of obesity in high school students significantly increased from 2004‐2005, so that now more than 1 in 5 11th grade students in Texas are obese.v Between the surveys, the health requirement for high school students was dropped, and the amount of required physical education was cut. During that same time period, the rates of obesity stayed the same in elementary schools, which are required to implement coordinated school health programs. New data show that implementation of coordinated school health programs is linked with the rates of overweight in elementary school children: when programs are implemented fully, rates of child overweight decrease, while rates of child overweight increase in programs that are not
Texas is a Leader in Improving Child Health through Implementation of Coordinated School Health Programs and Fitness Testing. Texas has been cited as a leader in the implementation of legislation and implementation of coordinated school health programs, especially related to child obesity prevention in elementary schools.vii Dismantling the network, coalitions, and programs that have been put into place and have shown significant positive results would be disastrous to child health efforts, and would take years to re‐build. In addition, many grants awarded to school districts and universities for coordinated school health program support, research, and surveillance would be jeopardized by the elimination of coordinated school health programs, including a recent $5 million grant award to AgriLife Extension. This could result in the loss of jobs and sending funds back to the granting agency.
If Coordinated School Health Programs are eliminated:

Child obesity rates will rise, especially among elementary school children. In addition, conditions associated with obesity (e.g., type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, etc.) would rise.

Academic performance will decrease.

Texas will have greater health care costs.

Dress for Dinner on May 9 with Sachin+Babi

Gracie Cavnar
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Hope you will join us for our last fashion event of the season.  Book you tickets for Dress for Dinner on May 9 at TOOTSIES with Sachin+ Babi at

Fabulous feast and refreshments provided by Fox Hollow, SlimRita and Pondicheri.