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Cool Schools: Ring Lardner Middle School serves up fruitful learning

Cool Schools: Ring Lardner Middle School serves up fruitful learning

NILES, Mich. –

A new incentive at Ring Lardner Middle School is boosting academic performance through a taste test.  

It's March Madness, but not on the gym floor.

"We have a bracket filled out in the cafeteria," said Evan Winkler, the assistant principal at the school. 

And instead of teams, fruits and veggies are pitted against each other. 

"Today a lot of people loved the blueberries," said Emilee Stratton, who is in 8th grade at the school. 

All the tasting isn't just meant to expand students’ palates, it’s also meant to serve up more fruitful learning.

"We need to educate the whole child,” said Winkler. “We know from research that if students eat healthy, they get good sleep, and they drink water, that can increase academic success."

Winkler was a driving force in getting the idea established. During the month of March, the school gives out two different fruits or vegetables at lunch, and let the students pick a winner.

"I think it's fun because a lot of kids like voting and they like rooting for different vegetables and all that," said Stratton.

"We just want to be able to expose our students to healthier foods," said Winkler, adding that ultimately he hopes the incentive leads to healthier lifestyles. 

“You're not ready to learn if you're hungry, or if you haven't gotten sleep,” he said. “So if we can teach them how to have a quality meal, they'll be ready to learn and can focus on their core classes.”

Winkler is already planning ways to take the initiative to the next level. He says that includes getting parents involved. 

"If we can all say the same message and we're all on the same team it just helps to build the community and help kids keep eating healthier," said Winkler. “We’re trying to keep helping our kids because we love our kids here at Ring Lardner. 

In addition, the staff at the school are working to be good examples by participating in challenges to drink more water or eat more fruits and vegetables.

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