Bright Spot: STEAM Academy students exceed in health, nutrition

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lunch time at Maxine Smith's STEAM Academy is lively and busy like most schools, but there is one difference — the school's focus on health and nutrition.

"The district has a farm to table program."

The school has also partnered with organizations like The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Garden Bites to give students hands on experience growing and preparing nutritious food.

"We have a rigorous and robust academic and STEM curriculum but our brand is joy and health," said Principal Andy Demster.

Schools eligible for the Healthiest Schools in America list have to meet a list of standards: They have to provide breakfast daily, exceed daily nutritional standards, offer at least 60 minutes of physical education each week and encourage daily physical activity.

Running laps. Resistance training. Stretching. The students at STEAM Academy have options to get them moving.

"We're able to go down to Liberyland disc golf course and play disc golf," said Kyle Kuusisto. "We utilize the garden for meditation, breathing and yoga."

The garden is also where students grow herbs, fruits and vegetables like  green onions, mustard greens and collard greens. They then turn them into tasty yet healthy snacks.

And by all accounts it has been a hit.

Principal Demster said STEAM Academy uses a whole child approach where they focus on education and the child's physical and emotional well being.

"We have to support each other, live with each other, be healthy and live healthy lives so we prepare kids for the future."

The school is also one of only 10 schools in the country to receive the National Healthy Schools Gold Award.

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