Celebrating VUSD Gold Winners of HealthierUS School Challenge!

October 12th, 2018

Celebrating VUSD Gold Winners of HUSSC

Vista Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) was a spectacle yesterday. Power Panther (the USDA mascot), 200 5th grade students, Gertrude the dairy cow, the Boys & Girls Club of Vista, and over two dozen special guests from across the state arrived for a special awards ceremony. Seven Vista Unified schools (Beaumont, Bobier, Foothill Oak, Grapevine, Hannalei, Maryland, and VAPAreceived the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold award for their efforts to create healthier school environments through nutrition and physical activity. These Vista Unified schools are seven of only 270 schools to get the Gold award in the whole country! This is a huge accomplishment, and one that deserved a celebration.

Directors with Power Panther mascot and blender bike

Power Panther and VUSD Director of Child Nutrition Services, Jamie Phillips, stand with Donna Caeg (CA Department of Education), Morgan Maitoza (Tour de Fresh and California Giant Foundation), Kimberly Frinzell (CA Dept. of Education), and Jesus Mendoza (USDA Western Regional Administrator) and the new blender bike.

VAPA’s after-school club created custom banners for each school to welcome their fellow 5th graders through the gates and into the Performing Arts Center. Power Panther was there for high fives and silly photos, and each student and principal received a gold medal to wear proudly the rest of the day.

Welcome Grapevine Grizzlies

Power Panther welcomes the Grapevine Elementary Grizzlies to HUSSC awards ceremony.

Once all 200 students, dignitaries, principals, and special guests were in the Performing Arts Center the awards ceremony started. Brock Smith, Executive Director of Facilities & Operations for VUSD, ran the show. Speakers included Kimberly Frinzell (CA Dept. of Education Director of Nutrition Services), Vista Mayor Judy Ritter, Morgan Maitoza (Tour de Fresh and California Giant Foundation), and Jesus Mendoza (USDA Western Regional Administrator).

VUSD principals with awards

VUSD principals received awards for their efforts to use nutrition and physical activity to create healthier schools.

The awards ceremony also included the 2018 season debut of the Bulldog Pups, a choir of 1st and 2nd grade students, as well as Vista Voices, a choir comprised of older grade students. Barbara Gates of Lean and Green Kids led two songs about lean and green protein and food from the Earth (with a sing-along chorus!).

Student choir

The Bulldog Pups and Vista Voices sang songs during the HUSSC ceremony.

Lastly, Jamie Phillips (VUSD Director of Child Nutrition Services), and Amy Haessly (Registered Dietician and VUSD Nutrition Education & Training Supervisor), presented each school principal with an award on stage. The students from each school cheered loudly for their principal, but none louder or more enthusiastically than the students from VAPA for Benjie Walker.

VAPA principal Benjie Walker wins award

VAPA principal Benjie Walker reacts to roaring cheers from her students as she receives her award.

Once the ceremony was over, the fun really got started! The special guests were invited to tour VAPA’s culinary garden, which is one of the reasons for the award. VAPA has such a successful garden that the students have been able to harvest enough for the school salad bar!

VAPA culinary garden tour

A couple of VAPA students show off their garden to special guests during the HUSSC awards.

Meanwhile, all 200 5th graders went to the Nutrition Fair. The fair had four fun activity stations where students got to run and play, meet a real dairy cow, survive a taste test challenge, and rethink their drink.

The Boys and Girls Club of Vista ran the physical activity station, which had a team-based version of tic-tac-toe, modified dodgeball, and laps.

Hula hoop tic tac toe

Students play tic tac toe with hula hoops and bouncy balls.

The Dairy Council of California brought Gertrude, a 3 year-old Jersey cow, to teach kids about dairy farming and where their milk and milk products come from.

Mobile dairy classroom with cow

The Dairy Council of California teaches kids about dairy farms with Gertrude the cow.

Amy Haessly ran the Fear Factor Food Challenge, where students tried different foods to earn an “I survived” sticker. Students tasted roasted garbanzo beans, rainbow carrots, juice cherry tomatoes, striped Armenian cucumbers, and the famous black bean and corn salad (on the salad bar year round).

Fear Factor Food Challenge

Amy Haessly gives students a Fear Factor Food Challenge. Students try new foods to earn an “I survived” sticker.

San Diego County Health and Human Services ran the Rethink Your Drink station, showing students how much sugar is in common beverages and how to get a great tasting, refreshing drink with no added sugar. To demonstrate, students got to make fresh strawberry banana smoothies using the brand new blender bikes. One student mixed the ingredients and another student pedaled to power the blender. All students in the group got a taste!

Students with bike blender

Students make a strawberry banana smoothie with the new bike blender.

Once all the students rotated through each station and got their appetites sky high, it was time for a WaveCrest Cafe lunch. The VAPA Thursday menu featured orange chicken and brown rice and our chicken tamales (just about everyone’s favorite). Special guests were invited to eat a school lunch and experience just how great the WaveCrest Cafe team is at making great tasting and nutritious lunches.

Speaking of, the real heroes behind this whole event were the VAPA kitchen staff! This group prepared over 100 extra lunches, served everyone efficiently (including our special guests), and then cleaned up after a whirlwind couple of hours. They are our MVPs and we could not do this without them.

WaveCrest Cafe kitchen staff and Power Panther

We couldn’t do it without our wonderful kitchen staff! Thank you for all your hard work.

Just before the visiting students got on their buses to go back to their schools, the WaveCrest Cafe team gave each one a bag with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, a WaveCrest Cafe recipe book, a reusable straw, and a smoothie recipe to share with their families.

For more photos and videos, be sure to visit our Facebook photo album. We’ll also be sharing photos on Twitter and Instagram. And to review the media coverage from the event, visit our In The News page of the website.