Health Education Department

Health Education instills the skills and knowledge necessary to enhance the health and wellness of our students. Drawing on knowledge and health issues from the biological, environmental, psychological, social, physical, and mental sciences, students learn essential skills to reduce health risks and promote wellness.

Health Education at Shenendehowa follows the NYS Navigate by the Stars curriculum. In this program, students study functional health knowledge areas that have been identified as essential for young people to know in order to be safe, healthy, achieve academically and avoid risky behavior. Students learn and practice essential skills in the context of realistic, health-related situations that are relevant to adolescents.

Elementary School

  • Health lessons are woven into the elementary curriculum and taught by the regular classroom teachers. The lessons help students develop attitudes, knowledge and behavior that contribute to their own sense of self-worth, respect for their bodies and ability to make constructive decisions. Personal health guidance is provided including habits necessary to maintain good individual and community health.
  • For grade 5 students, Shen has partnered with the Prevention Council to offer Too Good for Drugs Program, a science-based prevention program designed by the Mendez Foundation. It is a coordinated effort with 5th grade teachers to provide students skills including goal setting, communication and decision making. In addition, students will learn resistance techniques enabling them to say no effectively to tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.
  • In grade 5, all students attend a Maturation Program. Boys and girls attend separately a 1 hour presentation provided by one of our health teachers. A parent information meeting is held prior to the delivery of this curriculum.

Middle SchoolWebpage

  • Health education is taught for twenty weeks to students in middle school (grade 8).
  • Course information sheets: middle school health class.
  • Information on the sexual health unit.

High SchoolWebpage

Health education is taught for one semester (2 quarters) in high school (grades 11 or 12). The district also offers an on-line health course for high school.

Graduation Requirements in Health

  • In order to graduate with a Regents/Advanced Regents diploma, students must take and pass one semester of health (a half-year course).


About the Sexual Health Unit:


  • Ten days of the one semester course are designated for sexual health education, mandated by New York State.
    • In middle school the Sexual Health Unit will be taught between 12/22–1/16 and 5/28-6/11.
    • In high school the Sexual Health Unit will be taught between 11/20– 12/11.
  • Certified health education teachers and administrators have used the Commissioner’s regulations 135 and NYSED guidance document to develop the sexual health curriculum, with the primary focus on abstinence and the secondary focus on contraception. Shen meets current New York State standards (required) for sexual health education. National standards are also considered.
  • In grade 8, students learn about the reproductive system (review of and extension from 7th-grade science), abstinence, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, gender stereotypes in the media and healthy relationships. Click here for a summary of the curriculum.
  • In high school, students learn about abstinence, contraception, HIV/AIDS (methods of transmission, the incubation period, how HIV affects the immune system, and the prevention of the spread of HIV), teenage pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender stereotyping, decision making styles, risky behaviors and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
  • Sexual health programs are typically defined or segmented according to two different approaches. Both approaches have components that are vital to the provision of a balanced, clinically-sound, instructive and comprehensive health curriculum. Like many schools, Shenendehowa provides a program that is a combination of these two approaches, commonly referred to as an Abstinence Plus program (meaning that while we primarily focus on abstinence, we also teach about contraceptives).
    • Comprehensive sex education – Sexual Risk Prevention programs teach teenagers a range of information related to their own sexual anatomy, the act of sex, the use of contraceptives, and the risks of pregnancy and STDs associated with having sex. (i.e., Planned Parenthood)
    • Abstinence education – Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) programs teach teenagers that abstinence from sex until marriage is the expected standard for all teens and it is the most effective means of avoiding the risk of pregnancy, STDs and harmful social/emotional effects. (i.e., Healthy Respect)
  • Data and health information is constantly changing and is updated regularly using national and state resources including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the NYS Department of Health.
  • The health education teachers present sexual health information in a factual, clinical way and without judgment. Students are encouraged to take what they have learned in class and talk about personal/family values and beliefs with parents or other adult family members.

“Opt out” option for the Prevention of HIV/AIDS Lesson

NYSED regulations provides an “opt out” option for the prevention of HIV/AIDS portion only (Commissioner’s regulations 135). This means that student will not attend class for one of the two day HIV/Aids lessons in the 10 day sexual health unit and students are still responsible for the content.

How to “opt-out” of the one-day, HIV/AIDS portion of the unit…Parents should submit a letter to the child’s health teacher.