Friendly competition at NHHS stocks food pantries
What do SpongeBob Squarepants, Nemo the fish, a green M&M and a butterfly have to do with Thanksgiving?
Plenty, when they are made out of about 11,000 non-perishable items that were distributed to five organizations and 25 families who needed a helping hand for the holiday.
Students at North Harrison High School collected the goods, ranging from canned goods, like soup, vegetables and fruit, to toilet paper and bars of soap, for about two weeks.
Then, last Tuesday evening, members of each of the four classes used their bounty to build a display on the high school gymnasium floor.
‘We knew … we wanted to do SpongeBob,’ said senior Rachel Robertson.
Robertson is also president of the Student Council, which sponsors the annual can drive right before Thanksgiving.
‘Usually we don’t have that many cans,’ she said. But, ‘This was really neat.’
Assistant principal Doug Dodge, now in his second year at NHHS, suggested the idea of a class competition to help stock food pantries that he had seen work well at other schools. At one school, Dodge said about 1,200 students collected 20,000 items.
The first week of collecting at NHHS was slow going.
‘Then all of a sudden it took off,’ Dodge said.
Robertson said interest picked up once the students saw pictures Dodge had from past displays at other schools. She said the competitive side of the event helped gain participation.
Besides earning points for items donated, classes could accumulate additional points based on the number of students who participated and there were bonus days when, Dodge said, extra points were given for specific items, such as beans one day and soup on another, as well as a ‘necessity’ day that saw dozens of rolls of toilet paper come in to the school.
Students were allowed to use colored construction paper to add detail to their designs. This allowed the sophomores, which had the least amount of points, to produce their green candy piece.
Last Wednesday morning, the students assembled in the gymnasium to see the finished displays.
‘You’ve outdone yourselves,’ Dodge told them. ‘You also have made the holidays more enjoyable for others.’
The junior class won the competition with the most points. For their display, they remembered their classmate, Elizabeth Banet, who was killed in a car crash in late October.
Using cans, they spelled out, ‘We love Lizzie.’ They also crafted a butterfly, because the 16-year-old loved butterflies, said junior Jessica Jones.
It took them about 2-1/2 hours to put their design together.
Nick Allen, a member of the Class of 2005, was instrumental in the success of the junior class. Besides collecting money to purchase the items, Allen would call around to the different stores to find the best buy before heading out to shop, said teacher Donnetta Reed, Student Council sponsor.
A popular, inexpensive food staple was Ramen noodles. Cases of the uncooked noodles were used by the juniors for the butterfly’s thorax and abdomen.
The freshmen, who selected Nemo for their design, had the second highest number of points, while the seniors, with the popular yellow Nickelodeon character, were third.
‘The kids did a good job,’ Reed said. ‘They really had a good time doing this.’
The canned food drive, as well as other service learning projects, like collecting used coats (that drive ended Monday) and buying gifts for the ‘Angel Tree,’ are ways of teaching students how to give something back to the community, Reed said.
During the time allotted last week to put together their canned goods displays, some classes spent more time cutting construction paper than it actually took to lay out their presentations.
‘Now they’ll know for next year,’ Reed said.