Wellness Report

The ANWSU Wellness/Prevention Initiatives

SPA (Student Prevention Association) Assets VKAT (VT Kids Against Tobacco)

ANWSU Nutrition/Wellness Committee

Youth Leadership Groups



Over the last 12 years, we have achieved significant success through the efforts of the
ANWSU Prevention Council and a strong community-wide effort to help youth realize their full potential. There have been challenges as well as successes along the way.  Through a nationwide effort to reduce risk-taking behaviors among youth, states have set goals to help measure youth trends.  Every two years the Vermont Department of Health and the Vermont Department of Education sponsor a survey of Vermont students. Before 2011, students in grades eight through twelve took the Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey. In 2011, we conducted two surveys: a high school survey of students in grades nine through twelve, and a middle school survey of students in grades six through eight. Addison Northwest surveyed grades seven & eight and nine through twelve. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) measures the prevalence of behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disease and injury in youth, as well as lifestyle choices.  The YRBS is part of a larger effort to help communities increase “resiliency” of young people by reducing high risk behaviors and promoting healthy behaviors. When the survey was administered in February 2011, we had a 96% participation rate for middle school students and an 81% participation rate for high school students.  Data gathered is used to monitor trends, compare Vermont students with a national sample, look at how our local community compares to other communities in Addison County and Vermont, as well as to plan, evaluate, and improve programming. It is important to remember this is only a “snap shot” of youth behavior.  Strong bonds with healthy adults, along with enforcement are keys to a healthy community.  To access the Youth Risk Behavior Survey please visit http://tinyurl.com/3cp5tql . The survey will be administered again in during the winter of 2013.




  • Al’s Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices – was implemented in grades K-2 across the supervisory union. Al’s Pals teaches children ages 3-8 years old to express feelings, care about others, use self-control, accept differences, solve problems peacefully, cope, and make safe and healthy choices.


  • Know your Body - curriculum addresses all of the health education content areas recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Through its cross-curricula matrix, KYB can easily be integrated into the classrooms in disciplines such as science, math, social studies, language arts, and physical education. Selected modules are implemented in grades K-2.


  • The Botvin  LifeSkills Training Elementary School program -  is a comprehensive, dynamic, and developmentally appropriate substance abuse and violence prevention program designed for upper elementary school students. This highly effective curriculum has been proven to help increase self-esteem, develop healthy attitudes, and improve their knowledge of essential life skills – all of which promote healthy and positive personal development.


  • Teenage Health Teaching Modules (THTM) is a successful, nationally used, and independently evaluated comprehensive school health curriculum for grades 6 to 12. It provides adolescents with the knowledge and skills to act in ways that enhance their immediate and long-term health. Selected modules are implemented at the 6th grade level.



  • Teenage Health Teaching Modules (THTM) is a successful, nationally used, and independently evaluated comprehensive school health curriculum for grades 6 to 12. It provides adolescents with the knowledge and skills to act in ways that enhance their immediate and long-term health.




Due to the new structure of the 2011 YRBS we are unable to follow trends as in the past. Until this time, the early onset indicator was age 13. This has been lowered to age 11. This alone, is indicative of adolescents taking greater risks at a younger age.  One strong indicator of future addiction problems is early onset.  Early onset means youth who report consuming alcohol, more than just a few sips, prior to the age of 11.  The chart below looks at our seventh and eighth graders compared to all seventh graders in the State.


Percent of students who had first drink other than a few sips before age 11.




7th - 17%

7th - 7%

8th – n/a

8th - 10%

                                                  Grade 8 was fewer < 5 therefore no data is available


Percent of students who ever had a drink of alcohol other than a few sips.




7th - 25%

7th - 17%

 8th – 24%

8th - 34%

Source: Youth Risk Behavior Survey-ms survey


Vergennes Union Middle School students are dangerously exceeding the State percent of seventh graders using alcohol. Our SAP (Student Assistance Professional) is working with a team of high school students to look at trends and design priorities for the upcoming school year.



We are not able to make true comparisons of data over time due to the new structure of the 2011 survey. With this in mind, it is important to not lose sight of risk areas that have been the focus of our community’s efforts. Binge drinking is declining.


                        Percent of grades 9-12 students who had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row, past 30 days.






Source: Youth Risk Behavior Survey-high school survey


Community-wide efforts seem to be reaching high school students. Far fewer students are participating in high risk drinking. In 2007 25% of high school students binged on alcohol over the past 30 days. 2011 shows a significant decline.



We know that tobacco use is on the decline nationwide. This is due to active counter advertising and school-based tobacco programming funded through Tobacco Settlement monies. We too have seen a significant drop in the number of youth reporting tobacco use in their life time.



Early initiation, used marijuana prior to the age of 13 is also declining. On the 2011 survey, there were no students reporting use before the age of 11. Middle School numbers of students who have ever used were too low to report. This is great news.


Students ever having tried marijuana 9th-12th grade students reporting, show relatively stable trends, with high risk groups along the way.  Comparing our total use to the State we have moved from significantly lower to parallel. This is too high and an area which we need to continue to put our focus. 


Percent of grades 9-12 students who have ever tried Marijuana.




2011 Total     39%

2011 Total    39%

Source: Youth Risk Behavior Survey-ms/high school survey





Bullying and being victimized by bullies have been increasingly recognized as health problems for children.


How did ANWSU Compare to the State of Vermont?




Electronic bullying is a real concern, especially among middle school students. It is the silent epidemic we hear about on the news, on talk shows throughout the year.  E-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, sexting, web sites, and text messaging are the venue that our children use to communicate on a daily basis. Females were more likely than males to report being electronically bullied. The Student Council 9-12 at VUHS helped implement a new procedure banning cell phone use during school hours. This procedure was included in the 2011-2012 Vergennes Union High School Handbook. They have been banned in the middle school.


Percent of grades 7 & 8 students who were electronically bullied, such as through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, web  sites, or text messaging, in the last 12 months.


Grades 7/8


Grades 7/8



Source: Youth Risk Behavior Survey-ms survey


The 2009 YRBS indicated that 13% of 8th grade students reported being electronically bullied. In 2011 30% of 8th grade students reported the same. This is a 17% increase which is significant and needs to be addressed.


Percent of grades 9-12 students who were electronically bullied, last 30 days.


ANWSU- Grades 9-12

Vermont Grades 9-12


15 %

Source: Youth Risk Behavior Survey


As students move along in high school, incidences of electronic bullying decrease significantly. Females are at a higher risk of becoming offenders. 22% percent of grade 9-12 bullies were female compared to 7% of males


Overtime efforts have been increased to limit the amount of time students have to wander during the school day. Several initiatives have been put into place over the years. Programs in place are having a positive effect on limiting alcohol and other drug access on school property. Some of these initiatives are as follows:



Responsive Classroom The Responsive Classroom is an approach to elementary teaching that emphasizes social, emotional, and academic growth in a strong and safe school community.


(BEST) Project Building Effective Strategies for Teaching Students with Behavioral Challenges The BEST Project is designed to help schools develop effective strategies to respond to challenging student behaviors.

PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports), can best be described as a systems approach to academic achievement and social competence for all students.


RESOURCE RESPONSE CENTER (RRC) at the high school sends resources to the classroom to deal with behavior issues, using restorative justice protocols to build support for individuals who need it. As a result of this initiative, time-on-task continues to improve. RRC has become a state-of-the-art practice, one of the reasons the high school has been recognized as a PBiS “School of Distinction.










Complete copies of the 2011 YRBS can be found by visiting the VT Department of Health website http://www.healthvermont.gov/research/yrbs/2011/index.aspx you will be able to access reports by state, local, county as well as data briefs and a comparison of VT and the U.S.


State and federal grant funding continues to dissipate. Since 2003 we have had the luxury of a variety of funding to support health/wellness/ violence prevention activities within the supervisory union (New Directions, TIV SDFSC, School-based tobacco, VKAT). Today we struggle to keep programs moving forward with fewer funding sources. The School-based Tobacco Settlement grant along with local guidance budgets are the only revenues remaining.

Some activities that were funded over the past few years were as follows:


  • Parenting On Track™ - Funds are no longer available and therefore we are unable to offer this parent training.

100+ parents have been trained over the past 7years. During the spring 2011 another successful series was held at the high school.


  • Bi-monthly Student Prevention Association (SPA) luncheons were held at VUHS.  Lynne Rapoport, Nutrition Coordinator, prepared local foods for 23+ elementary leadership student representatives; student-led activities were planned and led by both elementary and middle school students who then share what they have learned with their peers.


  • VKAT (Vergennes Kids Against Tobacco) continues, without additional funding. A group meets regularly at the middle school and participated in the Memorial Day parade.


  • Partnerships with the Vergennes Prevention Community Action Group and the Addison County Tobacco Roundtable help to implement community-wide activities including the Sticker Shock Campaign, the Tie One On Campaign and the Family Bingo Night to mention a few.


  • Health & Wellness Days


  • Lock-ins/Movie Nights


  • YRBS Risk Behavior Survey Team, led by Tom Fontana our (SAP) Student Assistance Professional.
    Eighth-twelfth grade students who look at the data and create an action plan. Highlighting areas of improvement from data scores and highlighting areas of need.


  • Governor’s Youth Leadership Conference – was cancelled last year due to a lack of funding


  • Healthy Hobbies as an alternative to risk-taking behaviors


  • Family Fitness Nights


  • Guest Speakers


Boards must decide which important programs to fund. With the loss of state and federal funding, we have been forced to eliminate the Prevention Coordinator position which has been a part of our school community since 2003.


For more information regarding any activities or to join a prevention group, please contact
Tom Fontana, Student Assistance Professional (SAP) at 877-2938 Ext.276 or Jill Strube, Tobacco Coordinator/After School Director at 877-2938 Ext. 298