Last updated: Mar 02, 2016

5. Mountain Valley Middle
Mexico, Maine
320 students in grades 6 through 8


Morning at Mountain Valley Middle: Kids and teachers eat nutritious breakfasts in their classrooms. Through this innovative approach, piloted last year, students begin their days more attentively and learn conversation skills and table manners from their role models.

This wasnt the only creative idea our judges lauded at this far-north, rural school. Mountain Valley takes full advantage of its outdoor ethos, getting kids moving in activities like mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, and even moonlight snowshoe walks.

Special recognition goes to Mountain Valley for facing a growing problem among adolescents—suicide. The school has addressed this issue head-on in its health curriculum. “So often health education focuses exclusively on physical health,” judge Martin says. “With all of the influences students are exposed to, ensuring good mental health should be a high priority for all schools.”