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Students are what they eat.

We hear much these days about "hyperactive" kids suffering from attention deficit disorder (A.D.D.) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (A.D.H.D.). In too many cases, overzealous school administrators pressure parents to treat fidgety students with dangerous drugs such as Ritalin. However, the staff of Central Alternative High School in Appleton (CAHS), Wisconsin, which educates students with behavioral problems sent there from 12 area schools, had a better solution.

Prior to 1997, CAHS had many of the discipline problems associated with an "alternative" school, even including some students carrying weapons. Things had become so bad that a police officer was recruited to be on the staff. In that year, however, a private firm called Natural Ovens of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, began supplying the school with a healthy dietary program. Following the health-conscious firm's recommendations, the school removed vending machines stocked with junk food and added healthy salads and additive-free foods to the menu. During a five-year period following implementation of the healthy-eating program, CAHS principal LuAnn Coenen reported no incidences of students dropping out, being expelled, using drugs, carrying weapons, or attempting suicide. The principal stated: "I can't buy the argument that it's too costly for schools to provide good nutrition for their students. I found that one cost will reduce another. I don't have the vandalism. I don't have the litter. I don't have the need for high security."

Dr. Thomas Scullen, superintendent of the Appleton Area School District, stated in a videotaped interview put out by Natural Press of Manitowoc: "We have kids who have had a lot of problems and got through the whole last year without an expulsion. Drop-outs dropped to non-existent. Kids came to school. They have learned that with healthier foods it's going to make them a better person. It keeps them more focused and makes them happier."

Greg Bretthauer, dean of students at CAHS, was enthusiastic about the results: "If they don't come doped up on bad food, by God, they have the chance to learn something." And Appleton middle school science teacher Dennis Abrahm said, after observing the results of the healthier diet: "I've taught here almost 30 years. I see the kids this year as calmer, easier to talk to. They just seem more rational. I had thought about retiring this year and basically I've decided to teach another year --I'm having too much fun!"

The amazing success at CAHS in Appleton led the state of Wisconsin to grant funds for the printing and distribution of packets of information about the school's nutrition program to 500 of its alternative schools.
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Title Annotation:The Goodness Of America
Author:Mass, Warren
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 13, 2004
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