The Illinois School Health Association and the Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance recognized the health program with the Blue Ribbon Award in for health education. The program was also awarded in 2008.
In the state 11 middle and high schools were recognized. and Resurrection High School in Chicago are on the list.
Health teachers Marge Melfi and Melissa Phillips got a chance to show off their award-winning curriculum to the school board Monday night.
As Melfi made the presentation, wailing from the hallway distracted board members. It was not coming from an infant whose distress had pulled a parent out of the meeting; rather, it was coming from two “Baby Think It Over” dolls that Melfi’s husband was trying to quiet. The dolls are used as part of the school’s pregnancy prevention program.
The dolls go home with eighth-grade students, who must care for them like real babies. Like real babies, they need to be fed, changed, burped and rocked, and they wake up and need attention during the night, Melfi said.
A sensor in the doll recognizes a wristband that the parenting student wears so the doll cannot be passed off to a friend to watch. Another sensor records interactions and generates a grade for the student.
“We’re the only middle school I know that are doing this,” Melfi said.
Scott Hermann, principal, said schools are required to cover more than 40 topics in health education, including everything from nutrition to sexually transmitted diseases to internet safety.
Among the curriculum components that are most effective are a unit on eating disorders and how they affect the body, a project requiring students to create a truth-telling advertising campaign for the effects of tobacco, and making stress balls during a unit that discusses healthy and unhealthy ways to address stress.
The school also has several pairs of glasses that simulate the impairment of someone with a blood alcohol level of .08, the legal limit for driving in Illinois.
“For our students, that’s not many drinks,” Melfi said.
Students wear them and attempt a variety of tasks, from walking a straight line to throwing a ball at a target, she said.
When those trying to walk straight inevitably veer to the side, teachers tell them they could have just caused a head-on collision, or killed a mother and her children walking along the side of the road.
Jane Wojtkiewicz, school board president, commended the teachers for showing students how to be safe and healthy.
“My mom once said she didn’t envy me raising a child in this day and age,” she said. “That scared me a little. But parents have you [health teachers] to help.”