Mid-Coast School Notebook: June 30

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CES unveils mural, supports healthy choices

A mural depicting scenes of healthy and active living was recently unveiled at Coffin Elementary School during a school-wide assembly to unveil. The four panel mural in the cafeteria aligns with the school’s involvement in Mid Coast Hospital’s 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go!, a childhood obesity prevention and wellness program that promotes the key message of five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, two or fewer hours of recreational screen time, at least one hour physical activity, and zero sugar-sweetened beverages daily.

“The new Coffin School 5-2-1-0 mural is a celebration of our talented and innovative staff teaming with supportive community partners in order to do great things for some of Brunswick’s youngest learners,” said Principal Steve Ciembroniewicz. “In addition to brightening up the cafeteria, the mural is a joyful way to support the healthy choices we value for all our Coffin School students. We are grateful to everyone who donated so much of their time and expertise to make this project come to life.”

The mural includes scenes of children on bikes, scooters, and skateboards, jumping rope, playing basketball and baseball, jogging and walking. Coffin Elementary School students created it with help from art educator Amy Crosby and students from Brunswick Junior High. School custodian Hank Ramsey built a custom frame and installed the mural. Funding for the mural was provided by a 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! mini-grant from Mid Coast Hospital, the local 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! dissemination partner for Brunswick, Harpswell, and Sagadahoc County.  To learn more, visit www.letsgo.org.

“Making the cafeteria a bright, cheery place, with reinforcement of the 5-2-1-0 healthy guidelines, is a wonderful compliment to what we teach here,” said phys ed teacher Tracey Peck-Moad. “Having the elementary and junior high school students, our staff, and community partners work together to create such an amazing piece of art, further reinforces our mission, which is to create a K-2 learning community made up of students, parents, teachers and local citizens where children will grow socially, emotionally, and academically to foster life-long learning.”

Students welcome spring with orchard plantings 

Hundreds of students at eight Maine public schools got their hands dirty in orchard plantings this spring. Thanks to the nonprofit ReTreeUS, the grade school, middle, and high school students are leaving their mark for years to come.

A variety of 128 apple, peach, plum and pear trees were dispersed among the eight school orchards: Manchester Elementary, Oxford Hills, Walker Elementary, Ellsworth, Pownal, Connors Emerson, Newport, and Bath Middle School. Schools become eligible for their own orchard by applying to participate through ReTreeUS, and at no expense.

“I really like educational experiences like this. I’ve learned a lot already!” said a Bath Middle School student.

The organization, in its fifth year of planting, is dedicated to promoting an environmentally sustainable, socially just food system through education, practical resources and mentorship. It lives up to its mission: before each planting is a lesson.

“We believe that by engaging students in the process of growing their own food and caring for trees, we can create lasting change,” says Richard Hodges, ReTreeUS Program Manager. 

In about five years, these trees will start to produce fruit. For now, it’s an education in sustainability and understanding where comes from.

Twelve varieties of apples and pear trees were planted among the orchards. “Often these kids think that the apples they see in grocery stores are the only varieties,” Hodges explained. “We are teaching them that types like Liberty, Enterprise, and Wolfe River also exist, and can be grown right here in Maine.”

The mornings began with the dormant trees soaking in water while students dug holes. They then mixed compost into the piles of soil from each hole and pushed the mixture over the roots to plant. “These are your trees,” Hodges says to the students at the end of each planting. The orchard is made complete with ReTreeUS signs about apple history, pollination, and its environmental impact to make the space accessible for self-guided tours.

Apply for an Orchard Planting: ReTreeUS is now accepting applications for spring 2018 school plantings. To learn more, see retreeus.org or email richard@retreeus.org.

Coffin Elementary School Principal Steve Ciembroniewicz, phys ed teacher and Let’s Go! Coordinator Tracey O. Peck-Moad, custodian Hank Ramsey, and art educator Amy Crosby stand in front of the new 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! Mural at Coffin Elementary School in Brunswick.