At the end of last school year, the Mariemont Junior High staff decided to change the culture in their building from allowing water consumption in class to actively encouraging water consumption in school and during activities.
Principal Molly Connaughton took the idea and ran with it.
Although each school building in the Mariemont City School District is equipped with water fountains, the idea was to take it one step further and research the possible installation of water bottle refilling stations in the building. Connaughton partnered with Allied Reddi-Rooter to purchase and install retrofitted water bottle refilling stations.
And through collaboration with the other principals in the district, there are now water bottle refilling stations in all four school buildings. Athletics also supported an additional water bottle refilling station in the junior high and high school athletic areas.
“I then reached out to the Warrior Coalition because they focus on wellness and it seemed like a natural fit,” said Connaughton. “They agreed with us that staying hydrated is important not only for overall wellness but also to support learning.”
And on the first day of school this year, all 278 Mariemont Junior High students received a Camelbak water bottle, sponsored by the Warrior Coalition with the assistance of the Mariemont Junior High PTO.
“It’s fantastic to go into our classrooms and see that water has become ‘the new normal’ as most kids carry their water bottles and casually drink water throughout class.”
Water wellness is also an essential part of the curriculum taught by Terri Thomas, health and wellness teacher at Mariemont Junior High and Mariemont High School, who incorporates a hydration series into her junior high wellness class. A culminating activity for the series is for student groups to create posters illustrating the importance of hydration, and then displaying those posters in the junior high as well as the elementary schools.
“For all of us, proper hydration helps our body processes maintain efficiency, it reduces fatigue and headaches, helps you think clearer in the classroom and improves your overall mood,” said Thomas. “This initiative will benefit all of our junior high students – I’m already seeing a shift in thinking among the students. It’s great to see.”
Although the initiative was launched at the junior high, it was adopted by the other district school buildings through the installation and use of the refilling stations, the poster displays and the wellness curriculum around proper hydration.
“In our district we use data to make informed decisions, promote student growth and maximize achievement, and there is plenty of research to support the benefits of students and staff staying hydrated throughout the school day,” said Connaughton. “The water bottles say Mariemont, not Mariemont Junior High, on them with the hope that students will take their water bottles - and the practice of using them! - to the high school and beyond,” said Connaughton.