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Cool School of the Week in Ogden promotes the health of students and environment

Posted at 8:37 AM, Oct 25, 2023

OGDEN, Utah — In the shadow of the mountains, students in Ogden get hands-on learning about recycling, hydroponics, gardening, art, physical fitness, being drug-free and more.

Shadow Valley Elementary is FOX 13's Cool School of the Week, where they take learning out of textbooks and into real life.

While there's plenty of classroom learning, students also get experiences that teach them about their health and the environment.

For Halloween, students collect their candy wrappers in a heated competition between grades.

"Because candy wrappers cannot be recycled the same way as other plastics, kids bring in their wrappers from Halloween, we put them in these boxes and then send them in these boxes and we send them in so they can be recycled," explained Morgan Christiansen, who leads the STEM club.

The competition, while simple, helps students learn about recycling in a fun way while also competing against peers for prizes like an extra recess or pizza party.

STEM club also has rows and rows of hydroponics, with student "green ambassadors" teaching other kids about plant life.

"We have one around every classroom in the school," explained Tate, one green ambassador for the school. "Our group, the green ambassadors, go around and teach everyone how to use them."

Admiring the rows of seedlings, Tate went on about how the plant pods work.

"What I think is cool about this is the plants, they grow in sponges instead of dirt and the nutrients in the water make it so the plants grow twice as fast as they normally would," he said.

Meanwhile, Archer stands beside a go-kart-type creation that's another aspect of the STEM club.

"The main goal of our club is to teach kids more about mechanical engineering and hopefully improve this car and race it against other schools," he said.

Christiansen expanded on the program, saying students will take the car apart and make improvements to it before putting it back together and going head-to-head with other schools.

Heading outside, students learn about their health with before-school sports practices and fitness.

On Wednesday, a group of boys flooded the field, learning about and playing soccer before class began. In the spring, girls will take over the outdoor areas for their session.

"Anyone who wants to join can join," explained PE teacher Ashley Davis. "Then we bring them in the morning and teach them soccer skills and then we take a bus after school and plays other teams."

Davis explained a pillar of the school is health and she helps students take control of their own well-being with physical fitness.

Students don't just play dodgeball either. Davis said she gets the kids involved in pickleball, volleyball, basketball and "pretty much any sport or activity you can think of."

The theme of health is continued with support from the Parent-Teacher Association as well.

On any given day, you may see students dressed out in pajamas or rocking a "crazy hair day" as the PTA educates students on the importance of being drug-free.

The themed days help open the conversation about drug usage and get the message into young children about the dangers of drug abuse.

"What makes Shadow Valley so special is the parents and the community that support the kids and the school and in particular our leader, Principal Ardizzone," said one parent, Eric. "Without Principal Ardizzone, things wouldn't move like they do today."

Ardizzone didn't take any credit for the school's success, saying students and teachers are really what makes the school so cool.

"STEM, environment, we have parent's involvement, we have good scores," he reflected. "We have amazing teachers and employees all around."