Magazine School District officials were presented with a National District of Distinction Award recently at the 2017 Biennial School Health Conference in Benton.

Superintendent Brett Bunch and Wellness Center director Donna Robinson were presenters at the conference and it was the Wellness Center that led to the designation.

The school applied for the designation through the District Administrators Leadership Institute and was one of two districts to receive the award. The other, Bunch said, was in Illinois.

“Basically it was because of the work everybody that we’ve done here,” Bunch said. “It comes down to our partners, which are Mercy Hospital, Dr. (Bryan) Bishop’s dentistry, Dr. (Anh) Chung’s optometry, Valley Behavioral and Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center.”

Bunch said there are 27 wellness centers in the state but Magazine is one of only five that offers all components.

“When you look at being able to alleviate travel for our parents, it puts kids back in the classroom quicker, which alleviates lost seat time, which helps with their education,” said Bunch. “That’s what we’re here for.”

The school being in a high poverty area also contributed to the designation as did opening the facility to neighboring school district Western Yell County.

“We didn’t have to do that,” Bunch said of the agreement by which WYC students are transported to the wellness center. “But it’s the right thing to do. If you see a need, fill it.”

And, according to a press release from the conference, the school works with local pharmacy County Discount Pharmacy, “to provide convenient access to medications.”

Despite being the ranking member of the district, Bunch, however, shuns credit.

“I’ve just carried on the foundation that was there,” he said. “There are some things I had to do when I came in. When I came in, it was the last year of our state grant so I had to figure out sustainability and was very fortunate to do that, figuring out reasonable rental rates for each provider.

“The school district doesn’t want to make a dime off of it. We just don’t want to lose it and we don’t want to have to pay.”

The center is also open to the community daily between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the summer and 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the school year.