Andrew Fritz, physical education specialist at the Bentley Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts wanted his students to be able to participate in the Child Nutrition Outreach Program’s School Breakfast Video Contest. Since the contest was only open to middle and high school students, Mr. Fritz, in collaboration with Bentley’s leader, Principal McFarland, decided to do their own contest within the school community. Mr. Fritz had experience working on the local public access television station and was comfortable with script writing, video production, and editing, and decided to start an after-school program to work on video production with students. The program ran on Mondays for five weeks in the months of March and April. During the five weeks a group of seven students learned how to write the script, and act in, produce, and shoot the video.
The group of students decided to do a video on how they would feel and act throughout the day if they ate a healthy or an unhealthy breakfast. While in the gym, for example, the students sat out if they had not eaten well that morning. Also during the film the students held up signs about the benefits of a healthy breakfast. Examples included, “Gives you energy,” “Makes you healthy,” and “Keeps you focused.” These signs now hang on the gym door as a daily reminder to students of how a healthy school breakfast can help them succeed.
Mr. Fritz said the students were really creative and learned a lot. He also said that the whole program would not have been possible without the help of Principal, Dr. McFarland and School Nutrition Director, Deb Jeffers.
"Having their support was key because it wouldn’t have been possible for me to go ahead and work with the kids without having Dr. McFarland; her leadership at the school is terrific. She is everywhere in this school. She puts her heart and soul into this job… she really gives 100% to her job and it really shows. Deb was a real help and in providing a special breakfast for the students as part of their celebration. She has given the Bentley students an opportunity to start each morning with a healthy breakfast that will provide them with the energy they need to do their best in school. Her hard work plays a big role in helping student achievement. Tania Skeffington, a paraprofessional at Bentley, was also a big help to the video group. She provided the students with really creative ideas, kept them focused on the task at hand, and provided great direction throughout the video process."
The program has ended and Mr. Fritz is working on prizes. The students who participated in the program will receive a certificate, school breakfast pencils, a ruler with puzzle, grape eraser, and pencil case. These prizes will be presented at their congratulatory school breakfast, whole grain pancakes! During the breakfast the students will also get to watch the video they made during the program. During the making of the breakfast video the Bentley School also started offering Grab n’ Go breakfast. With the re-energized emphasis on breakfast, and the healthy options available at school, Bentley is now seeing almost 400 kids eating breakfast at school each day!
Overall the Bentley School Breakfast Video Contest was a success; the students learned video production and are more aware of the benefits of a healthy school breakfast!