Family Pages: BEASD elementary students give back to their communities

Howard Elementary students sing for retired BEA staff member Anna Confer and her neighbor.
Howard Elementary students sing for retired BEA staff member Anna Confer and her neighbor. Photo provided

Giving back to your community is rewarding — that’s a lesson that students in the Bald Eagle Area School District are learning at a young age. Each school year, Howard, Mountaintop, Port Matilda and Wingate Elementary students plan and participate in various service projects that touch many people’s lives.

Port Matilda Elementary

At the start of the year, the fifth-grade class at Port Matilda Elementary developed a list of monthly service projects they could complete throughout the year for their community. In December, the students decided to lend a helping hand to Toys for Tots, a program that has donated toys to underprivileged children since 1947.

The class designed a flier to be sent home with all Port Matilda students, detailing the Toys for Tots collection. Additionally, the students made posters and decorated a bulletin board to advertise the project.

Their project was a success. In only a week’s turn-around time, when the toys needed to be at the drop-off, the students collected more than 36 toys for the program. The students’ fifth-grade teacher, Jennifer Gilbert, dropped them off at a collection center, just in time for Christmas.

Wingate Elementary

CANuary has been a Wingate Elementary tradition that allows students to donate to their local food bank throughout the month of January. This year, about 500 food items were collected.

First-grade teacher Jodie Franks, coordinator of the event, said, “The students love to see our empty stage transform into a nice mound of pantry items throughout the food drive. Taking part in such a project gives the students joy; knowing that they are making a difference in someone’s life, one can of food at a time.”

Students from all grade levels worked together to create the “mountain” of food on the stage. At the end of each week, first-graders in Frank’s class were in charge of gathering the items, which were collected in boxes outside of each classroom door, and tallying up the numbers.

At the end of CANuary, a local Girl Scout troop (No. 41512) led by fourth-grade teacher Ann Van Cise packed up the food and delivered it to the Milesburg Food Pantry. Members of the troop are from BEA schools, including Wingate Elementary and the Middle/High School. In this service opportunity, the girls sorted the food into categories (proteins, fruits and vegetables, cereals and grains, soups, etc.) and boxed them up for delivery.

Mountaintop Area Elementary

In the month of December, students at Mountaintop Elementary typically have a gift exchange before going off for their Christmas break. This year, the students instead decided to donate to two organizations that were at the forefront of their hearts — Pets Come First and Centre County PAWS. They titled their program appropriately for the holiday season — Presents for Paws.

In two weeks, the students collected many items to be donated equally between the two organizations. To advertise their efforts, an informational flyer was sent home. A Christmas tree was placed at the entrance of the school, where students could place their donations. Instead of bulbs and tinsel, the tree was decorated with handmade ornaments with pictures of the students’ pets.

At the conclusion of the drive, guidance counselor Danielle Sowers delivered half the items to PAWS. The other half was presented to Pets Come First representatives at an assembly held at the school. In attendance was one of the Pets Come First rescue animals — a handicapped dog in a wheelchair. Students had such a rewarding experience deciding to give rather than receive, that they hope to make this an annual project for the month of December.

The Mountaintop students have also helped their community by recently collecting 1,200 pounds of food for the Mountaintop Area Food Bank.

Howard Elementary

Each December, students at Howard Elementary pull on their coats and warm up their voices for the school’s annual community caroling event. Organized by head teacher Sherri True, students sing holiday favorites and bring Christmas cheer to the residents who live within walking distance of the school.

Caroling is but one of the many community service projects in which Howard students participate. Each spring, the students collect donations for the school’s walk-a-thon, raising money for charitable organizations such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Howard Elementary also has a Spirit Club for students in grades 2-5. Named appropriately, members of this club bring “spirit” to the community, and school, by making cards for the elderly in nursing homes, Veterans Day cards for veterans living within the community and Valentine’s Day cards for cancer patients. Students also decorate the school for events and collect donations for the local food bank. Spirit Club is run by fifth-grade teacher Amber Buchanan and building secretary Melissa Robinson.

Bald Eagle Area Schools are at the heart of our community

Because Bald Eagle Area is a rural school district, the elementary schools are often at the heart of the communities where they are located. BEA students and staff are proud to give back to the families and friends in our BEA communities who support the educational efforts and programs of the district.

Rose Hoover is spokeswoman for the Bald Eagle Area School District.