Whitehouse school makes a powerful push for wellness


Every Monday at Whitehouse Primary School begins the same way.

Snap's single smash song "The Power," (you remember: "I've got the power. I've got the power") blares over the public address system.

Shortly thereafter, teachers, staff, and 561 students are ready to again tackle the task at hand.

Because of the federal Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, which calls for schools to have individual wellness programs and which was signed by President Bush in June, 2004, Whitehouse Primary has a new theme each week. Each theme is dedicated to promoting either a powerful mind, a powerful body, or a positively powerful heart.

Naturally, school administrators have dubbed its program - and the school - The Power House. See where the song from the late 1980s fits in?

Whitehouse Principal Brad Rhodes said it's all part of a plan to help the students get the most out of the entire program.

"My main goal is to keep the kids interested and excited about what they're doing," Mr. Rhodes said. "Some weeks we'll keep it simple. Others, we'll have really involved activities planned. So far, the kids have been excited every Monday to find out what they're going to do next."

One week, the students may be challenged to run a certain number of miles through gym teacher Linda Herman's "Milers Program." The next, they might participate in a conflict-resolution seminar conducted by hired professionals or see how many math problems they can solve.

Mr. Rhodes said the activities may vary slightly from grade to grade (Whitehouse has students from kindergarten through the fourth grade), but the goal is to have something planned for every week of the school year.

The "Power House" concept at Whitehouse was developed last year as part of a wellness plan put in place for faculty and staff.

Different programs were offered each month, some by St. Luke's Hospital, to teachers, administrators, and others. The "Power House" theme was adopted during the course of last year and was carried over.

Mr. Rhodes said he, Ms. Herman, guidance counselor Jill Schwerer, and a few teachers created an outline for this year's "Power House" program. He said rhw plans for each week are set through this month.

The theme for last week was "eating healthy," so students were asked to take a healthy snack to school each day.

Third grader Addison White, 9, munched on an apple last week while he was interviewed.

He said the red apple he had in his hand was his favorite healthy snack. "They keep your body healthy and your teeth will stay pretty good if you eat them," he said.

Savannah Rothhas, 9, said she's learned one major thing from each theme discussed during "Powerhouse" sessions. "If you want to set a goal, you can reach it if you really want to," she said.

She's "got the power" to do so.