Governor John Hickenlooper and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined a crowd of hyper elementary students this afternoon for the best part of the school day -- lunch and recess. And for the two high-profile politicians, that meant cafeteria food, basketball and incredibly awkward group dancing. The event at Lowry Elementary School was part of Duncan's annual "Education Drives America" back-to-school bus tour, highlighting the importance of exercise and nutrition in schools across the country.
For the gaggle of reporters following around the officials in attendance -- including Colorado senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall -- it meant a lot of good photo ops of elected officials with smiling children, inside the school cafeteria, in the school's garden and outside dancing on the school's field.
"The reform agenda [in Denver], the collaborations, the improvements here are pretty remarkable to see," Duncan told reporters after he and the other officials in attendance ate lunch, took a tour of the school and hung out with elementary school students. "What happens in Denver, what happens in Colorado has national implications."
"The projects that are being run here involving healthy food and great exercise affect the kids' academic performance. So it's all tied together," added Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "And again, Colorado's been a great leader in figuring that out.... For the first time in a long time, school nutrition standards have been raised."
Duncan offered more praise of Denver and Colorado when asked how the city and state compare to other education systems in the country. "They are doing a spectacular job.... As Denver moves, as Colorado moves, so moves the country, and I think the national spotlight has been here and will continue to be here and that the courage and the tenacity and the spirit of reform here has been remarkable."
Lowry Elementary School touts a number of garden programs and health and wellness initiatives that the federal officials in attendance today highlighted, including a "garden to cafeteria program," after school enrichment programs, worm composting in classrooms and summer garden clubs.
Here are photos of the officials in attendance dancing and eating alongside elementary school students.
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