From Manatee to White House: Gullett students enjoy first lady, gardening

April 6, 2013 

How supremely exciting for the five B.D. Gullett Elementary School students to visit the White House and meet first lady Michelle Obama up close and personal this week. And then dig in the dirt and plant vegetable seeds. Few people enjoy that privilege.

Since the Lakewood Ranch school puts a high priority on a healthy diet and physical activity, Gullett earned a trip to the nation's capital as one of only four schools nationwide selected for this now annual Michelle Obama honor. Truly, though, the entire district shares Gullett's distinction with 29 elementary schools receiving HealthierUS Schools Challenge awards -- which caught the first lady's attention as the key to her Let's Move! initiative.

Her determination to promote an overall healthy lifestyle and combat childhood obesity starts with school lunches. Not only did the Manatee school district put salads, whole grain wraps, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as other healthy foods on elementary school menus, Gullett uses gardening to teach students about nutrition -- which impressed the first lady.

Gullett students Noe Antuna, Morgan DeGlopper, Robby Goecker, Ishvina Singh and Emilio Vega now can enjoy memories of a lifetime -- unique and thrilling ones.

Two fifth-graders offered keen insights in Friday's Herald Washington Bureau report about the first lady and the afternoon on the White House grounds:

"It was really exciting. She's very nice and she's really good at what she does with the seeds and everything." -- Emilio.

"It was a very overwhelming experience, and I thank Michelle Obama for letting us have this opportunity." -- Robby, who sounds like he has the chops to be a fine politician.

The kids certainly represented Manatee County well. Kudos to these future leaders.

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