Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, March 22, 2018
DISES has reasons to celebrate
by Monique Labbe
Learning and classroom activities are not the only things going on at Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School.
“We have so much to celebrate,” said principal Tara McKechnie.
One of the reasons to celebrate is the Kids in the Kitchen program, which serves as a way to reduce food insecurity by sending students home with healthy snacks and ingredients for at least one family meal. The program has been around since 2014 and works in cooperation with several island organizations. The Island Food Pantry provides all the food, while Bar Harbor Bank and Trust contributes the canvas bags, packaging materials and copies of recipes. Community members volunteer their time to put the packages together for delivery.
A “kindness board” can be found in the hallway at the school, as well as “100 reasons to love DISES,” a board outside Emily Wendall’s classroom. Both signify the positive attitude at the school, according to McKechnie.
Grants that had been applied for were approved for providing snacks for students ($3,000 was given from the state), and purchasing sleds for Winter Carnival and recesses.
“We met with Edible Island and Isaak Bolduc, our health teacher, to get things started. The plan is to provide snacks of fresh fruits and vegetables. Edible Island staff are willing to support the project by creating the menus, ordering food, and training PTO volunteers to prep the fresh food each morning,” said McKechnie.
The newly formed Parent/Teacher Organization has hit the ground running, organizing several events this school year, including the “Wishing You Well” project.
The project organized the purchase of small supplies that teachers “might like this time of year,” said McKechnie.
The PTO also took on the job of re-energizing the Box Top Campaign, and hosted a middle school semi-formal dance for Valentine’s Day. The funds raised during that event were for both the PTO and the 8th grade class.