Hart District seeks to shine light on student wellness

A Sierra Vista Junior High student walks past a display promoting the school's new motto, "Together we SUCCEED." Austin Dave/The Signal

The William S. Hart Union High School District is emphasizing student wellness this year and it was evident on the first day of school as principals around the district revealed the new techniques they’ll use to boost the social, emotional and physical well-being of their students.

Under Superintendent Vicki Engbrecht’s direction, the district is beginning a year-long wellness campaign, Director of Student Services Kathy Hunter said at Wednesday’s district board meeting. Many schools have created new mottos, established programs and instituted creative methods to provide a multi-tiered system of support that supports the whole child.

Placerita has PRIDE, La Mesa HOWLS and Academy of the Canyons LISTENS, Hunter said, before explaining that each phrase serves as an acronym related to the school’s wellness plan.

Sierra Vista SUCCEEDS, or supports, understands, cares, celebrates, energizes, explores and delivers, will be the motto of Hart’s junior high school and Principal Carolyn Hoffman.

The plan, according to Hart District spokesman Dave Caldwell, is that each Sierra Vista student will receive a specific pin that corresponds to a letter of the motto when a teacher spots a student practicing that particular character trait.

The school will hold an exchange prior to the end of the year where students will exchange different pins with each other, Caldwell said. The main focus is on everybody succeeding, just as the motto states.

Along with the creation of the mottos and programs, the district’s newest campaign also requires every principal to present a report at a board meeting.

Bowman High School Principal Eran Zeevi kicked off this year’s series of board reports on Wednesday, when he eagerly shared his vision, goals and the process in which they’ll be executed prior to the first day of school.

“You Matter!” Zeevi said during the meeting. It’s simple, and that’s what the school is going to instill in its students.

“Research tells us this combination will increase engagement, motivation, test scores and grade point averages while decreasing absenteeism, dropout rates and discipline issues,” Zeevi said. “Positive relationships truly have the ability and the power to unleash untapped potential in our students, (and) that’s just one of the many benefits resulting from the new focus on the wellness in the district.”

Zeevi concluded his presentation by personally passing out “You Matter” stickers to members of the board and audience, just as he did at Bowman High School this summer when he greeted his students during registration.

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