The momentum for wellness in the Charleston County School District was evident at a gathering last week.

Representatives from 52 of the 80 district schools converged on Burke High School for the second annual Wellness Roundtable to share “best practices” and success stories and, most importantly, collect some prizes and money for next year's endeavors.

Schools winning cash awards not only had wellness committees but had to complete a certain number of actions on a wellness checklist. First-time schools had to score only 30 points, while returning schools had to score 50.

Ultimately, it was a part of what District Superintendent Nancy McGinley and others describe as creating a “wellness culture” on school campuses that focuses on the health of students and staff.

General changes have included removing unhealthy snacks and vending machines from cafeterias, the incorporation of more physical activity in the classroom through “deskercises” and “brain breaks,” the creation of school gardens and the promotion of mental well-being for staff through yoga and meditation rooms.

Each of the 52 schools collected $1,000 in Boeing Wellness Awards, and Harbor View Elementary School took home an extra $2,000 for winning a grand prize.

“They had a lot to do in the past year and have completely integrated wellness into their school,” says Jennifer Moore, manager of The Boeing Center for the Promotion of Healthy Lifestyles in Children and Families, aka the MUSC Lean Team.

Examples of Harbor View's extra-credit effort included schoolwide policies on parties and fundraisers — replacing cupcakes, doughnuts and candy with healthy food or nonfood items — and exercises led over the intercom, as well as a meditation space for staff.

Harbor View, along with Lambs Elementary and the Military Magnet Academy, also took home an additional $500 each for winning the CCSD Recipe Contest. The recipes are created with the idea that the school's food service can actually use them for lunches.

The winning recipes included Harbor View's Baked Salmon and SteamedVegetables, Lambs' Kitchen Chicken and Garden Enchilada With Spinach and Quinoa, and the Military Magnet's Eagle's Nest Chicken and Vegetable Alfredo.

Honorable mentions went to Lambs for Chicken in the Field With Vegetables and Brown Rice and Mount Pleasant Academy's Inside-out Pizza.

Besides members of the wellness councils, representatives from an impressive array of partners attended the Wellness Roundtable and played a role in initiatives in some of the schools. Partners include Safe Routes to School, GrowFood Carolina, East Coast Organic Vending, Charleston Promise Neighborhoods, Lighten Up Charleston and Black Bean Company.

None of this would be in the works if it hadn't been a passion of McGinley (an avid surfer and tennis player) and Dave Spurlock, district coordinator for physical education.

McGinley addressed the gathering and underscored the importance of the health of the district's administration, faculty and other staffers, first to be able to teach children effectively and second to set an example.

Reach David Quick at 937-5516 or