Yarmouth students feed minds, community at conference

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YARMOUTH — As long-term school projects go, this one was especially nourishing for more than 100 high school freshmen.

“You can make a difference, you can do something about a problem around you,” Isabelle Hattan said about the project that culminated Tuesday night with a student-led conference on hunger in the community.

The Power of One conference allowed the students to demonstrate their efforts to inform the community and younger students about the prevalence of hunger and developing proper nutritional habits.

In groups as small as two and as large as 10, students organized their own projects and then developed the presentations for the 90-minute conference.

“I made a fantastic movie,” Andrew Nickerson joked about his five-minute video showing students at Rowe School and Yarmouth Elementary School participating in a food drive and learning statistics on how many classmates may not get three meals a day at home.

Nickerson was one of 10 students advised to a degree by Principal Ted Hall, but who generally made their own decisions on the project.

“Making our own choices made all the difference,” Maggie Keefe said. “We got to create everything.”

Working in tandem, Michaela Olsen and Brianna Brown met with younger members of the Portland Boys and Girls Club to show how developing good eating habits prevents future health problems.

By meeting them at the Cumberland Street clubhouse in Portland, the two said they learned club members were already getting healthy snacks, but maybe not enough to eat at home.

They showed slides about nutritional food groups and had club members prepare mock meals with foods from each group. They also made a lot of new friends, they said.

“They enjoyed the presentation more than we thought they would,” Olsen said.

Sam Rouda said the food drive is continuing at Yarmouth Elementary and Rowe schools, with bountiful results.

“We got a tower of cans,” he said, estimating one class collected about 150 cans and other non-perishable items.

The students were instructed to bring healthier foods for the drive.

“It was great to see how energized they were,” said Chris Higgins, who attended school in Durham until this year. Higgins said the project was rewarding because of the way his classmates collaborated.

Science teacher Catie Wooten said the first Power of One conference will show off a lot of good student work and achievement.

“I hope they realize this is work they can continue,” she added.

Nickerson said he wanted the projects to become part of the ninth grade curriculum.

“I hope they do this again next year,” he said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow David on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.