Gaining Skills While Giving Back

This past Monday, our Parker 6th grade (with the support of Parker STEM teacher John Sherry) participated in Kids CAN Build!, an event hosted by Shalom Food Pantry at Crossgates Mall in Colonie. In its inaugural year, Kid’s CAN Build is a project for middle school students that brings awareness to food insecurity locally while simultaneously allowing students to incorporate valuable STEAM learning. Parker was one of four teams chosen to compete and build a structure out of canned food items that will eventually be donated to local food pantries.Kids CAN Build fits beautifully with Parker’s mission and core values. In designing and engineering a structure that could be built using only cans, our students were able to exercise their intellectual vibrancy. At the same time, the process of CANraising (securing canned goods donations) and the ultimate mission of the project raised students’ ethical awareness and encouraged social responsibility. As one sixth grader put it, “Donating to the food pantry is pretty awesome. While we were raising the cans, it was so fun to check in every day and see how many cans were coming in. It felt like all of Parker was supporting the 6th grade, and all of Parker had a part in the project. We all feel pretty good about being to help people in need.”Another sixth grader reflected on the building process: “It made us be creative and work together to figure out what kind of design we want. We were originally going to build a box with streamers coming out of it, but then we thought we should do something that fit more with Parker. We started thinking about the outdoors, and someone shouted, ‘VolCANo!’ That’s when we knew what we were going to do. As for the physical building part, we really had to cooperate and pay attention to each other. It was hard but cool to see how we all worked together.”Ultimately, the Parker sixth grade came away from the day with an award for “Best Storyboard” (which you can see and read below). However, the real reward was the opportunity to for the sixth grade to share their time, their talents, and their energy in reaching out to others with kindness. As John Sherry reflected at the end of the day, “The thing I think about as I look around at all these amazing structures that were made is the crazy amount of work by the students, who wanted these cans not just for their project but also for the people who would ultimately benefit. Looking at all these pretty structures today, I just know that as beautiful as they are, in one week when they come down, they won’t even compare to the smiles on the faces of all the food pantry workers, the sick, the hungry, and the people who we are helping with this project. I think that is the real message, and that is what we tried to drive home through this project.”The Vol CAN o of Wishes ~ The 6th Grade StoryboardOnce every year on November 18th at around 3:30 in the afternoon, the incredible Vol CAN o of Wishes erupts with what looks like red bubbles. These bubbles are actually wishes for food, sent from every hungry person in the nation who doesn’t have enough money to afford their own. Why does our vol CAN o only erupt on the 18th of November? It’s because that’s the time of year when the weather gets colder and people need food more than ever; as soon as the vol CAN o erupts, it crumples into hundreds of cans of food for the hungry and homeless to eat! Then, in September, the Vol CAN o of Wishes replenishes it’s cans for when the weather turns cold again.The 6th grade needs your VOTES!!!Simply click “VOTE” below, which should direct you to the Shalom Food Pantry Facebook post. ***Vote by “liking” or commenting on the picture of our Parker 6th graders!*VOTEOn Another Note ?Last week, Parker musicians Annabelle DiStefano and Wade Wilmoth were the first ever Parker participants in the Rensselaer All-County Elementary Chorus. They performed with an 80+ student ensemble comprised of students from all over Rensselaer County. We are very proud of Annabelle and Wade for their accomplishments. We are also grateful for our dedicated music teacher Sara, who works tirelessly to continuously provide new and challenging musical experiences for her students.