Three kids sit on a playground

Students at Mary G. Hogsett Primary School (Danville Independent) are taught to ride tricycles, scooters and bicycle taxis on the school’s playgrounds to encourage physical activity, coordination and balance.
Photo courtesy Pamela Hambrick

The Mary G. Hogsett Primary School (Danville Independent) was named a 2023 Green Ribbon School for its efforts to establish more efficient and effective mental and physical health services for students.

The Green Ribbon Schools program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and recognizes schools, districts, postsecondary institutions and early learning centers for cost-saving, health-promoting and performance-enhancing sustainability practices.

Hogsett was one of two schools in Kentucky that received the recognition for 2023, along with Cardinal Valley Elementary School (Fayette County).

Hogsett Principal Pamela Hambrick said that being named a Green Ribbon School is special because “it not only brings local awareness to the amazing work happening at our school, but allows us to be recognized at the national level as well.” Hambrick and Danville Independent Chief Academic Officer Suzanne Farmer traveled to Washington, D.C., to accept the award.

Hogsett, which serves children ages 3 to 7,  is unique in its approach to health. A local pediatrician’s office has practitioners at the school daily and maintains an office on-site. The school also has a full-time nurse and counselor, two licensed clinical therapists and a child psychiatrist contracted to work with students at the school. All of these health services are offered free of charge for students.

“Since adding the partnership with our local pediatricians, student attendance has improved,” said Hambrick, “The ability for students to be seen by a doctor at school before being sent home ill helps ease the burden of having a sick child for our families.”

Students are taught to ride tricycles, scooters and bicycle taxis on the school’s playgrounds to encourage physical activity, coordination and balance, and to create habits that will encourage alternative transportation to and from school or work when students are older. Both school playgrounds have large tracks for riding that connect to the indoor gym through garage doors, enabling students to ride indoors and outdoors.

“I appreciate that our district has made mental health and physical health a priority,” said Hambrick.

The school also was recently remodeled with the environment in mind. The school installed larger, double-paned windows that increase natural light and added LED light bulbs with motion and light sensors. All water fountains were outfitted with bottle fillers, and all classrooms had sinks installed. Students are given reusable water bottles at the start of each year and encouraged to use refillable water bottles rather than disposable ones.

“Hogsett is a bright and happy environment,” said Hambrick. “We want our students to be in the classroom each day and learning. These resources are part of the bigger team that makes sure students are ready to do just that.”