Freedom Elementary: One of America’s healthiest schools
Freedom Elementary School, a Lawton Public Schools site located on Fort Sill, is nationally recognized for their commitment to students’ health and well-being from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
This year, 461 schools nationwide were selected and recognized based on a rigorous set of criteria – from availability of nutritious foods to access to quality physical education opportunities – as part of Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program.
Freedom is the only school in Oklahoma to receive this recognition and one of 13 schools nationwide to receive the highest level of recognition, the National Healthy Schools Gold Award.
Principal Mikel Shanklin said she thinks starting healthy habits for elementary students is Freedom’s most awesome accomplishment.
“As the only military installation to receive the Gold status from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation,” Shanklin said, “it has been an honor and privilege for us to lead this generation of students into a healthy and fit lifestyle.”
Freedom attained the Gold Award because they served healthy meals and snacks, got students to move more throughout the day, offered high-quality health and physical education and empowered school leaders to be healthy role models.
Specifically, faculty and staff follow a healthy cafeteria menu, implement healthy foods into class parties, grow vegetables in tower gardens and let students participate in 150 minutes of physical activities during the week, 30 minutes longer than the 120 minute standard, to meet the Gold Award criteria.
Assistant Principal Sara Breeze said she is grateful for teachers’ excitement about being a Healthy School.
“Teachers have become very creative,” Breeze said. “Our first grade teachers created a friendship fruit bowl. Each kid brings a different fruit, they put it all together and they turn it into a lesson about friendship.”
This is the second time that Freedom achieved this award, the first time was in 2016; this is the fourth time making Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthiest Schools list overall.
Central Middle School: Military Child Club
Right down the road from Fort Sill, Central Middle School faculty and staff build community, teach volunteerism and encourage growth to prepare students for success. Among the troops that contribute to these daily functions is CMS’ Military Child Club.
MCC is a group specifically for children with an active-duty or recently retired military parents. Its purpose is to provide military dependent students a place to belong – an environment that enriches their lives.
MCC is active in Lawton and at Central Middle School. Members host the year-end formal dance, provide a veterans breakfast for CMS teachers who are U.S. veterans, perform random acts of kindness, participate in community activities, volunteer at different animal adoption events and host bingo at the local nursing home, among a variety of other community activities.
MCC advisor and U.S. Veteran Deanice Shegog said no matter a student’s abilities, they are welcome to the group.
“Our goal is not to make CMS stand out,” Shegog said, “but to enrich the lives of our students. We have the largest [Lawton middle school] population of military children, and we strive to make their experience at school and in the community the best it can be. Our goal is not school driven, it is student driven.”
CMS principal Blake Thomas said he is excited about the things CMS does to welcome military children.
“We have a great Military Child Club that is involved in several activities,” Thomas said. “We recently had our first annual STEAM night that many students and parents attended, and they had a great time.”
Shegog said MCC allows her the chance to help students where they might struggle.
“With this club,” Shegog said, “we build a deeper connection to students and give them a place that is safe to share their struggles. We can identify academic deficiencies and assist in getting the help a student needs.”
Lawton High School
Lawton High School has a long-standing history in Lawton. LHS traditions run deep – from ringing the bell on the sideline at football games, to celebrating spirit week, to singing the Alma Mater while holding an “L” up, and even the Big Red Band fleading students down the hallways to pep rallies. These traditions help contribute to forging of the Wolverine Spirit within students, which is the willingness of each student to contribute to activities beneficial to LHS, Home of Champions.
LHS principal and alumnus Jerrold Jones said he and faculty are working hard to build a climate of respect, growth and community at LHS.
“We are looking forward for the school to grow,” Jones said. “When the climate operates at a high level, academics, attendance, testing and everything else will move in that same direction. The climate is the foundation.”
Students and faculty establish and understand the norms at LHS, and as part of those norms they know they represent LHS everywhere they go.
LHS activities director and alumnus Allee Passmore said under the leadership of Jones, LHS has celebrated more accomplishments, and everyone has more opportunity to input their opinions for decisions.
“We have great things going on,” Passmore said, “and we are trying to do a better job of letting the community know about all the Wolverines’ wonderful accomplishments.”
Jones stated, “the faculty’s goal is for the high school to be the highlight of every student’s day.”
“We are producing an atmosphere where people are more comfortable to speak out when something is wrong,” Jones said, “but to also recognize and congratulate people when things are done right. It goes both ways.”
“I want a positive experience for everyone,” Jones said. “That’s what we’re here for. This is a nice place to be.”