Assignment Education

Compiled by Pam Schipper

Robis Village School Builds Momentum with QO Efforts

Photo | Schools for Salone Quince Orchard High School’s 25th anniversary fundraising project is helping to make a new school a reality in Robis, Sierra Leone. Pictured are the old school (left) and the newly built one (right).

Photo | Schools for Salone
Quince Orchard High School’s 25th anniversary fundraising project is helping to make a new school a reality in Robis, Sierra Leone. Pictured are the old school (left) and the newly built one (right).

Last September, Quince Orchard High School embarked on a whole school service project to honor QO’s 25th anniversary. The school partnered with Schools for Salone and committed to raising funds necessary to build a school in Robis, Sierra Leone. To date, QO has sent $20,000 to Schools for Salone and has another $8,000 ready to send, wrote Jennifer Kempf, QO science and staff development teacher and lead on the project, in an e-mail.

This year, the school-wide fundraising effort for Robis School has already involved a Student Government Association (SGA) dance on Sept. 6 at the first Cougars game against Clarksburg. The October Cougarfest will continue QO’s fundraising efforts for Robis School, according to Kempf. “The other clubs, teams and advisories are all raising at least $100 for the effort,” she reported. “We plan to have raised the entire $50,000 we pledged by the end of this school year. The additional funds will build a well, furniture for the classrooms and a teacher office, buy textbooks and other learning materials, and sponsor the teachers for professional development.”

Building began in April so the building’s exterior could be completed before the region’s rainy season in July. “If you miss the dry season,” explained Kempf, “you have to wait a whole year.”

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Farm-to-School Week

From Sept. 23 through 27, students can get fresh in school — in the cafeteria, that is — with some great farm-to-lunchline food. The Sixth Annual Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week will feature fresh watermelon, cucumbers, squash, green beans and corn from Maryland’s Arnold Farms, Miller Farms and Callaway Farms. This week highlights Montgomery County’s involvement in the Jane Lawton Farm to School Program, which creates “a targeted focus of increased fruits and vegetables” across all county schools, according to Marla Caplon, MCPS director of the division of food and nutrition services. Improvements to school lunch include salad bars in elementary schools, all kinds of fruits and vegetables and entrée salads with a protein portion every Thursday at the elementary school level.

Taking school lunch farm to table is no small task. Some 60,000 school lunches are served each day in Montgomery County public schools. This might mean a delivery of 500 cases of cucumbers for one week alone, depending on the menu, explained Caplon. Beyond Maryland-sourced sourced fruits and vegetables, milk is provided by the Frederick-based Dairy Maid Dairy. Meat is commodity processed and not local, said Caplon.

According to Karen Fedor, marketing specialist with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, most Maryland state farms that supply MCPS are on the Eastern Shore because such a large school system needs to procure from farms with vast acreage. “Marla (Caplon) has been doing this (Homegrown School Lunch Week) since the program started,” Fedor noted. “Her menu is the best, I think.”

Challenges for farm-to-lunch offerings in Montgomery County are that Caplon must source food system-wide, and she needs to meet the USDA meal pattern requirements daily.

In partnership with the independent Montgomery County Food Council, some schools are making their food really local and starting their own school gardens. Most have been put in over the past few years, but Magruder High School in Rockville has had a student garden for the past 17 years. The purpose of these gardens is mainly educational, but food grown can be eaten in the classrooms.

The Jane Lawton Farm to School Program, named to honor the late Maryland House of Delegates member from Montgomery County, promotes the Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week and works with school districts throughout Maryland on nutrition and agricultural education. Fedor said that the program’s focus right now is on aligning Common Core curricula with farm field trips.

Parents can help their children observe the Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week, Fedor noted. “If you pack, think about buying local. Visit your farmers market with your child.” Peaches are still in season, and apples should start soon!

Latino Students Win Scholarships

Four Quince Orchard and Northwest high school alumni were among 25 college students from Montgomery County awarded scholarships, the 2013 Steering Committee of the Montgomery County Executive Hispanic Gala announced. All recipients are enrolled in Maryland colleges and universities; they were born in 10 Latin American countries and in the United States; and several of them are “Dreamers,” as specified by the Maryland Dream Act.

“These young men and women represent the high caliber of commitment and perseverance that characterizes Hispanic youth in Maryland,” Lorna Virgili, event chair, said in a statement.  “They are America’s future, and we are delighted to help further their educational goals.”

Each student will receive a $2,000 lump sum scholarship payable to the student’s school office of the bursar. Winners include sisters Maria Valeria Herrera and Nalia Alejandra Herrera, Quince Orchard alumni; Keyddi Johanson, also a Quince Orchard alum; and Natalia Aguirre, a Northwest alum.

Students were honored during the Sept. 12 Montgomery County Executive Hispanic Gala at The Fillmore Silver Spring. The Executive’s Hispanic Gala kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations in Montgomery County and throughout Maryland.