Archuleta School District #50 JT

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PSES and PSMS named Colorado Healthy School Champions

Archuleta School District (ASD) is proud to announce that Pagosa Springs Middle School (PSMS) and Pagosa Springs Elementary School (PSES) were named 2018 Healthy School Champions and each have won a $500 Excellence Award in recognition of their school health efforts.  

A review committee of 30 state-level health and wellness leaders from various Colorado non-profits and agencies reviewed 68 applications this year and selected 47 winners.

As Healthy School Champions, the middle and elementary schools will be honored at Colorado Education Initiative’s annual retreat on June 8, 2018 at the Keystone Conference Center in Keystone, Colorado. In addition, all winning champions will be highlighted in the Colorado Healthy School Champions annual magazine.  

ASD schools have implemented several programs and activities that promote health and wellness habits, reinforcing the critical link between student health and academic achievement.

They utilize adventure-based learning to get students out and practicing habits for healthy lifestyles. Before and after-school programs promote outdoor activities and healthy lifestyle choices. School cafeterias serve delicious and nutritious salad bar options. Schools work with other community organizations (like the greenhouses and Forest Service) to expose students to healthy lifestyle choices they can maintain after graduation. And, worksite wellness coordinators at each campus facilitate friendly health challenges and opportunities for staff members.

“I think our efforts are important because adventure-based learning and promoting healthy lifestyle choices are part of our mission,” says 6th grade reading teacher Kristen Albers, PSMS’s coach for the CATCH program that promotes at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity and encourages healthy choices regarding nutrition and self-care.

“I see better focus from students, more motivation, more students wanting to try new things and becoming involved in outdoor, healthy activities. During outside time, they are more likely to engage in sports or games rather than picking up a cell phone or electronic device,” she says.

At the middle school, teachers use 5-minute movement breaks during classes to promote healthy habits and positive mental attitudes. Many teachers take advantage of Pagosa Springs’ beautiful riverwalk, Reservoir Hill, and access to Yamaguchi Park as spaces for class discussion and outdoor activities and learning. All students have the opportunity to spend three days at Wolf Creek skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing.

PSMS 6th grade Social Studies teacher Joel Hernandez, who is in charge of the 100 mile club (before-school program), offers opportunities for students to run, play games, stretch, walk, and talk about fun things to do in order to exercise.

“I chose this program so I could help our students stay healthy and become more aware of how important it is to exercise every day,” says Hernandez. My idea was to get students involved in some activities that would promote exercise, so they don’t have to just hang out in the lunchroom. The program is open to all students, but I really try to focus on the students who do not play sports or play outside.”

Healthy School Champions Recognition is presented by Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) and  Colorado’s Healthy Schools Successful Students, and sponsored by The Colorado Health Foundation.


“At CEI, we see the positive impact healthy school environments have on student success,” said CEI Director of School Health Amy Dyett. “For the winning schools, health and wellness is embedded into the culture and systems. It’s about having an intentional investment to meet the needs of students and staff in order to achieve academically.”

Schools and school districts are awarded based on their implementation of best practices in school health, captured through an assessment tool called Smart Source, a narrative outlining their work, and letters of support.

The program has given over 315 awards, granting more than $350,000 over the past eight years in the range of $300 to $7,500 per champion.

About Colorado Education Initiative
For 10 years, Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) has been at the forefront of improvement, innovation, and change in Colorado’s public education system. We are a statewide nonprofit organization that invests time, expertise, and dollars in K-12 public education. We are rooted in a vision of equitable outcomes for every kid that drives a strong bias for action focused on sustainable change to the system. Over the years, we’ve worked with educators as an inspired and supportive partner on the ground in over 150 urban, suburban, and rural school districts. We are known as a visionary organization that fuses best practices with innovation, that is tuned into today’s school dynamic and always mindful of what the future demands.

About Colorado’s Healthy Schools Successful Students
Colorado’s Healthy Schools Successful Students represents a diverse set of stakeholders who are passionate about students, health, and education in Colorado. Working together, we are partnering in new, better ways — thanks to a deliberate investment of time and money. Our vision is that all Colorado youth are healthy and reach their full potential. Our bold goal, is that by 2025, all Colorado K12 public schools provide an environment and culture that integrates health and wellness equitably for all students and staff.  

About The Colorado Health Foundation
The Colorado Health Foundation works to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation by ensuring that all Colorado kids are fit and healthy and that all Coloradans achieve stable, affordable and adequate health coverage to improve their health with support from a network of primary health care and community services. To advance our mission, the Foundation engages the community through grantmaking, public policy and advocacy, private sector engagement, strategic communications, evaluation for learning and assessment and by operating primary care residency training programs. For more information, please visit