New Hanover County Schools


Engaging Students, Achieving Excellence


Two NHCS Schools Recognized for Addressing Student Health Needs Relevant During COVID-19 Crisis

Two schools in New Hanover County are among the 517 schools nationwide to earn a spot on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s (Healthier Generation) 2020 list of America’s Healthiest Schools for their commitment to promoting quality nutrition, regular physical activity and strong wellness policies.
Award-winners Williston Middle School and Sea-Tech High School were evaluated on practices taking place prior to the COVID-19 school closures, but they leveraged their strong foundations in wellness and have been positioned to prioritize healthy habits throughout the pandemic. They have continued to sustain and promote good health by:
  • Ensuring that all food and beverages sold meet or exceed USDA standards and both breakfast and lunch programs are fully accessible to all students. In addition, the food services manager welcomes suggestions and feedback from students in regards to menu options. Williston also established Smart Snack options on campus for students and staff.
  • Williston’s Child Nutrition Manager, Mr. Michael Markantone, ran cafeteria tours and planned school nutrition activities.  They also promote nutrition through a shared school-wide healthy recipe Padlet which gives their staff a chance to share food recipes that taste great and are good for them.
  • Williston has cross-country sports in the fall and their Trailblazer club is in the spring to keep student-athletes moving. Williston’s Coach Steven Braune leads their TUFF (Team United in Friendship and Fitness) Wrestling Club to teach young wrestlers the basic fundamentals.
  • Williston enjoys community building through First Friday social events, and this keeps their Tiger family fueled throughout the school year.  They understand the importance of self-care, and that is how they ultimately help their students stay healthy.
  • Williston’s Diversity Garden just outside of school grounds links them to the Wilmington community.  Mr. David Brenner with Wilmington Green runs many community gardens around Wilmington, and his dedication to inspire Williston students through the school’s gardening club instills a love of agriculture.  N.C. Farm Bureau has recently awarded Williston with a grant to fund a project called, “Agriculture in the Classroom.”  This project will bring in a seedling light cart to go into their 6th grade science classrooms for lessons which link with their gardening club.  Their club members will take the ready plants to the garden.  The farm to plate concept will certainly be recognized by Williston students and a respect of their environment will follow them as they transition from adolescents to adults. 
  • Resources are made available to Williston staff through Badge Bargains offering free physical health assessments through Anytime Fitness and nutritional wellness assessments through Summerfield Custom Wellness. 
  • In addition to Health/PE courses, Sea-Tech offers a student-created sports club to provide additional opportunities for students to participate in physical activity.  They also have an on-campus fitness center under construction that is almost complete and will be available soon for student and staff use. 
  • Students and staff volunteer at races throughout the community and are encouraged to participate in the NHCS Teacher Trot each year. They are partners with Nourish NC to provide for students and have participated in food distribution during times of need. Every month, Sea-Tech offers a lunch and learn opportunity where they invite community/business partners to provide career exploration opportunities. 
  • Students have the opportunity to participate in sports during lunch each day and SEA-Tech hosts a school-wide student and staff volleyball tournament.
  • At SEA-Tech, Students are provided opportunities to participate in brain breaks in their classes and at times, enjoy outdoor instruction. Schools also do frequent check-ins with students to see how they are feeling. 
  • Staff members are encouraged to practice self-care through various means: walks around campus during breaks, guests at staff meetings provide examples of self-care, and frequent team-building opportunities.  
For nearly 15 years, Healthier Generation’s annual recognition program has honored schools that are implementing best practices that support children’s learning and development, including meeting or exceeding federal standards for nutritious school meals and providing regular opportunities for students and staff to be active throughout the school day. It remains one of the country’s longest-running, nationwide recognition programs honoring schools for achievements in nutrition, physical activity and wellness policies.
“SEA-Tech is honored to receive this national recognition for our dedication to supporting the well-being of students and staff. We realize healthy schools lead to healthy students, therefore we provide our students with the tools necessary to be successful physically, emotionally, and academically,” says Heather Appleton, School Counselor.
"I am extremely proud of the work by all stakeholders at SEA-Tech! Being named one of America's Healthiest Schools 2020 is a real testament to our belief in engaging the whole child and of the importance our modeling has on the growth and development of teenagers and their families,” says Dr. Edith Skipper, Principal.
“We commend this cohort of school leaders for prioritizing the essential health needs of students and staff in a time of great challenge and with limited resources at their disposal,” said Kathy Higgins, chief executive officer of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “Over time, these awardees established strong foundations in health – allowing them to pivot and adapt to meet acute health and wellness needs in a year unlike any other.” 
“Nobody will ever go wrong when focusing on health and wellness.  I tell my students all the time that if they are not healthy, they will not be happy.  It is easy to let our own health and well-being fall to the wayside as other important events happen during our daily lives.  Williston Middle School is a place where everyone in our “Tiger Family” will find support, and I am truly blessed to have such an amazing wellness team to help meet our wellness goals!  Williston would like to thank the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for this recognition and promotion of health and wellness across the nation,” says Coach John Giddo, Health and P.E. Teacher.
As members of Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program, Williston and SeaTech work to implement wellness policies and practices that meet federal requirements and support a comprehensive approach to kids’ health. Any school can join Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program to access trainings, resources and technical assistance by visiting
To view the complete list of awardees, visit