Mercyhurst Prep Wellness Policy

Mercyhurst Prep holds as one of its belief statements that the active pursuit of wellness enhances one’s quality of life and is committed to providing an environment, both educational and social, that supports such pursuit.  We believe that true wellness encompasses many areas:  nutrition and healthy eating, appropriate physical activity, emotional and spiritual wellness, and the following programs have been adopted in order to help our students attain and maintain levels of wellness in all of these areas.

Nutrition and Healthy Eating

As an outgrowth of our Middle States planning, the school has recognized that both knowledge of nutritious eating habits as well as our students’ actual practice of same must be addressed.  Mercyhurst Prep recognizes that student wellness and proper nutrition are related to students’ physical well-being, growth, development, and readiness to learn. The school is committed to providing a school environment that promotes student wellness, proper nutrition, nutrition education, and regular physical activity as part of the total learning experience. In a healthy school environment, students will learn about and participate in positive dietary and lifestyle practices that can improve student achievement. We recognize that education plays a major role, but it is also important to encourage students to make nutritious choices.

In order to address both, the following items are in place:

  • Nutrition education forms part of the required curriculum for all students in Health I, II and III courses.
  • Nutrition education, as well as an emphasis on the students’ own eating habits, is the focus of the required freshman Fitness and Wellness course.
  • Posters displaying healthful food choices are visible and readable within food service or seating area.
  • Nutrition education materials are readily available in the food service area for assisting students to develop knowledge and skills needed to lead healthy lives.
  • A monthly menu is available to student body, staff and families, and nutritional content of menu items is available to students.
  • Nutrition information is provided on foods offered in order to promote knowledgeable food choices.
  • A suggestion and comment board is available so that students and staff can evaluate the meal program and offer recommendations.
  • A nutrition report card is available upon request by parents detailing a student’s food purchases.
  • All food and beverages are served in a clean, safe and pleasant environment.
  • Students are provided with a minimum of 20 minutes after sitting down for lunch.
  • Farm to Fork – Students are involved in the planting and harvesting of produce from the edible school garden, and fresh produce is used in school meal preparation.
  • A comprehensive food allergy guide is available to students; school nurse notifies cafeteria manager of students with known serious food allergies.
  • Provide a nut-free area for students with serious allergies to peanuts and tree nuts.  Maintenance will ensure that this area is cleaned before each lunch with appropriate product.
  • Students have access to hand washing or sanitizing before meals.
  • Drinking water is available and accessible to students without restriction and at no cost to the student, at all meal periods and throughout the day.

The school meal program will:

  • Offer high quality, delicious, flavorful, nutritious food, with an emphasis on less processed foods and more from-scratch cooking including:
    • at least three fresh fruits daily with a variety available at various points of sale including near registers.
    • a variety of lean meats, cheeses and proteins.
    • at least three types of vegetables daily.
    • individual salads and salad bar daily.
    • whole grains including fresh dough whole grain pizza and new whole grain products as they become available.
    • a variety of foods that contain no more than 30% of total calories from fat.
    • vegetarian options.
    • cage free eggs.
  • Use only trans-fat free oils.
  • Eliminate the use of frying in food preparation.
  • Offer baked and whole grain snacks at every meal
  • Offer a variety of low calorie beverages including:
    • 100 % fruit juice.
    • hormone free milk that includes 2%, 1% and non-fat milk options as well as a lactose free product.
    • flavored water with no sugars or sweeteners – any size.
    • flavored water with artificial sweeteners  -17 oz. or less.
  • Eliminate products containing peanuts and tree nuts, and their oils, with the exception of individually packaged servings of peanut butter.
  • Include food items selected by students, parents and the staff through taste testing.

Physical Activity

Our Middle States wellness plan calls for students to have ample opportunities to practice appropriate physical activity and to derive pleasure and a sense of accomplishment from doing so.  In order to achieve this:

  • Physical activity forms part of the required curriculum for all students via Physical Education classes.  Students may choose from among Cross Training classes that carefully balance weight training and other forms of physical activity, Advanced PE Games and dance.  Freshmen are required to enroll in Fitness and Wellness.
  • The PE curriculum will increase students’ knowledge about what constitutes a healthy physical activity regimen through education as well as self-monitoring activities.
  • Students are encouraged to further pursue physical activity through athletics and conditioning programs that complement each sport.
  • The fitness center is available for use by both students and staff after school.
  • The PE department will engage students in the Presidential Fitness Challenge via PE classes and recognize outstanding achievement at the annual Awards Day Assembly.
  • The school will offer extracurricular and service activities that will further engage students in healthy physical activity, such as the Women in Motion walk for breast cancer awareness and the Laker Glow 5K Run.

Emotional Wellness

Clearly, a healthy life depends upon emotional wellness and the ability to cope with stressful situations.  To that end, the school provides:

  • Four building guidance counselors who arrange to meet with each student in their care.  Students are encouraged to visit their counselor for direction or in times of stress or difficult circumstances.
  • A Student Assistance Program (SAP) team which meets weekly and seeks to identify students at risk, putting into place a plan for support.  The team consists of administrative representation, four guidance counselors, the campus minister, the attendance officer, a drug and alcohol counselor, and a psychologist.  The team may refer students to outside agencies if warranted.
  • A Campus Ministry office and campus minister that provides a listening ear and an inviting space for students to connect with adults present and each other.
  • A full-time chaplain who is available to offer counsel and to liaise with families when indicated.
  • A peer-counseling and mediation program through which trained students guide others in reaching conflict resolution.

Spiritual Wellness

As a Mercy Catholic school, the spiritual wellness of our community is of the utmost importance.  We are committed to providing a rich and varied menu of ways in which students can grow spiritually.  We offer:

  • A full-time chaplain and full-time campus minister.
  • A vibrant, welcoming campus ministry that is committed to student and family outreach and spiritual development.
  • A full four-year theology curriculum centered on the Catholic faith and aligned with the standards set forth by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  The curriculum explores the Scriptures, the Catholic tradition, Christian ethics, vocations, and the major religions of the world.
  • Daily mass at 7:45 for those who wish to attend.
  • Whole school masses monthly, including on Holy Days.
  • Retreats for each class (9-12).
  • Class masses for each class (9-11).
  • A class baccalaureate mass for graduating seniors.
  • The opportunity for confession with our chaplain on a regular basis.  In addition, communal services are offered in Lent and Advent.
  • Daily whole school prayer and prayer at the start of each class.
  • Evening adoration for students, staff and families.
  • Evening masses for students, staff and families.
  • Opportunities for students to attend conferences and trips of a spiritual nature.
  • Small group summer and weekend retreats.
  • Preparation and installation of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.
  • Student involvement in leading retreats for area elementary school students.