Portland School Notebook

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Cumberland schools rewarded for health initiatives

PORTLAND—Recipients of this year’s Let’s Go! Bronze, Silver and Gold Recognition Awards were recently recognized for their efforts to promote and support healthy eating and active living for the children they serve.

Three local schools, four after-school programs and 22 child care facilities in Cumberland County received awards in the community-wide effort by the city, Healthy Maine Partnerships, the United Way of Greater Portland and Let’s Go! to promote healthy living for children, from birth to age 18.

The awards were given to registered sites that met all of the five priority strategies including providing healthy choices for snacks and celebrations, and limiting unhealthy choices; replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water and low-fat milk; offering rewards other than food; providing children with opportunities for physical activity every day; and limiting recreational screen time. If a site implemented all five strategies and incorporated them in a written policy, it earned the Gold Award. 

The United Way of Greater Portland, Opportunity Alliance and the Healthy Maine Partnerships of Cumberland County are working together to reduce and prevent obesity with the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program. Let’s Go! is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program that started locally in 12 Greater Portland communities. 5-2-1-0 is an easy to remember daily health guidelines of five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, two hours or less of screen time, one hour or more of physical activity, and no sugary drinks. Funding was provided by the United Way of Greater Portland to the Healthy Maine Partnerships of Cumberland County to work directly with child care facilities, schools and afterschool programs.

Arts and crafts projects funded by grants

Four projects launched by students in the Portland Public Schools each received $500 grants from Painting for a Purpose, an organization that funds youth-led initiatives that make a difference in the community.

Dalycia Greeley and Rose Stait, fourth graders at Reiche Community School, will use their grant to purchase used sewing machines and supplies for the school’s Sewing Club. The club collects, recycles and cleans juice pouches, then sews them into useful items such as tote bags. The students’ work is sold at a local store and the money raised funds school field trips.

Jenny Cheim, a Deering High School student, received a grant for a school composting and gardening project. The project aims to reduce waste at the school by composting. Students will learn how to garden using compost and how to cook healthy meals using produce from the garden. 

Megan Anderson, a Portland High School student, saw the need to create more space for art students to display their work at the school. She will use the grant to purchase panels that will be installed on the upper walls of the building. The first art to be exhibited in the new space will be scenes of Portland High created by students.

Students in Lincoln Middle School’s Photography Club recognized that fifth graders often are nervous about coming to middle school. The club members will survey the fifth graders, find out what they are nervous about and take pictures to get them enthusiastic about coming to middle school. The pictures of happy students, classroom activities and fun events will be put into a book and sent to each elementary school.

Painting for a Purpose brings people together to create hand-painted furniture that is sold at an annual auction. The proceeds fund service learning grants for students in the Portland Public Schools.

Boxtops by the thousands: Student seeks new fundraising record

Max Ngabo, a third grader at Portland’s Presumpscot Elementary School, set an ambitious goal for himself this year: to break the record for collecting box tops as part of a school fundraising effort.

Presumpscot participates in Box Tops for Education, a program that provides funding for schools based on the number of box tops and labels that they submit from certain products. Ngabo’s mother, Wanda Brann, leads the fundraising effort at Presumpscot. 

Ngabo looks for box tops and labels when he accompanies his mother to Portland’s recycling center on Marginal Way.  Some homeless people who frequent the center learned about Max’s goal.  They offered to help him by collecting box tops and asking their friends to do so.

In the past few months, he has collected more than 1,000 box tops and 1,000 labels.

Cheverus singers spread good cheer

The Cheverus High School Chamber Singers spent the morning of Dec. 19, caroling for patients and staff on five different floors at Mercy Hospital.

Under the direction Chris Humphrey, chairman of the Cheverus High School Music Department, the ensemble sang a selection of holiday songs to lighten the spirits of patients who were in the hospital over the Christmas season.

Members of the Chamber Singers include Nathan Caso, of North Yarmouth, Samantha SaVaun, of Portland, and Jack Sutton, of Freeport.

Sidebar Elements

Destination: Toys

Students from St. Brigid Catholic School, at 695 Stevens Ave. in Portland, recently helped fill Greater Portland METRO’s Toy Bus with more than 800 donated toys, books and other gifts for children in need this holiday season. The bus also made stops Dec. 12 to pick up donations at Holy Cross School in South Portland and at the former Plummer-Motz School in Falmouth, where the town had previously collected gifts. A final stop on the route was Falmouth’s OceanView retirement community. The donations were then delivered to WGME-TV 13 for distribution through the Salvation Army.