Lowell High School Students awarded $5,000 after pitching innovative school health and wellness idea to panel of Lowell community members

Author: Molly McKendry, MS, RD, LDN
group of teens holding milk

Lowell, MA – Two groups of Lowell High School students each received grants of $2,500 to fund their innovative school wellness ideas last Wednesday at LeLacheur Park. Funding was awarded to junior Liz Hamel and sophomore Owen Flanagan for their idea “Operation Healthy Lunch,” which involves incorporating a self-serve, fresh food cart (which will hold fruit, dairy, and other perishable items) into lunch.

The other student winners were freshmen Kaitlyn Chartier, Allison Carrabis, Alexsia Ortiz, and Franceline Alexandre, for their plan to offer yoga at the High School to increase opportunities for physical activity and reduce stress. The funding for these grants was provided by the dairy farm families of New England, New England Dairy & Food Council, the Lowell Spinners and other event sponsors.

Over the past few months, several Lowell students have been developing nutrition and physical activity-focused interventions aimed at enhancing the High School’s wellness environment as part of a class project. After pitching their ideas in front of their peers, nine student groups were then selected to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges in under 90 seconds at the Canaligator Tank (name based off the popular TV show, Shark Tank), held at the Spinner’s ballpark and hosted by New England Dairy & Food Council. Today, about 20 students took turns pitching their ideas on top of the Spinner’s dugout to judges and peers who sat in ballpark seats before them.

“The students came up with ideas, worked in teams to flesh them out, and then prepared a 90-second pitch that was succinct, thought-out, and compelling. Among other things, project development, public speaking, and leadership were skills they needed to make it here today. We’re really proud of them.” Said Sharon Lagasse, General Manager of Food & Nutrition at Lowell Public Schools.

Warren Shaw, fourth generation dairy farmer at Shaw Farm in Dracut and radio host at 980 WCAP, attended and helped to facilitate the Canaligator Tank in the morning. When asked about the greater community’s role in this process, he said, “It’s nice to see how everyone came together to support the High School students today. This type of project is great preparation for their future. The Lowell community members not only came to watch their pitches, but to network with them, talk to them about their goals, and support their school wellness efforts.”

After being approached by partners at New England Dairy & Food Council with the idea for this event, three teachers at Lowell High decided to adapt their curriculum to include the project: Stephanie Selvaggio, Science and Health Education department chair, Patrick Swett, Lead Wellness teacher, and Brendan Casey, health teacher. They also received support from Sharon Lagasse, General Manager of Food & Nutrition, and Alysia Spooner Gomez, RD and Food Service Director at Lowell Public Schools. Two Lowell High School alumni and active members of the Lowell Community, Kamara Kay and Ty Chum, stepped up to serve as Canaligator Tank judges. Overall, the day was a big success.

Thank you to the Canaligator Tank Sponsors: New England Dairy Farmers, Lowell Public Schools, the Lowell Spinners, Aramark, Aubert J. Fay Charitable Fund, and the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.  Additional thanks to The Lowell Sun and NRT Bus Inc.

About New England Dairy & Food Council

New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC) is a non-profit nutrition education organization staffed by registered dietitians. NEDFC is a state and regional affiliate of the National Dairy Council® (NDC).  Our goal is to ensure that health professionals, scientists, media and educators have a credible body of nutrition information upon which to base health recommendations.

About Minor League Baseball

Minor League Baseball, headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, is the governing body for all professional baseball teams in the United States, Canada and the Dominican Republic that are affiliated with Major League Baseball® clubs through their farm systems. Fans are coming out in unprecedented numbers to this one-of-a-kind experience that can only be found at Minor League Baseball ballparks. In 2017, Minor League Baseball attracted 41.8 million fans to its ballparks to see the future stars of the sport hone their skills. From the electricity in the stands to the excitement on the field, Minor League Baseball has provided affordable family-friendly entertainment to people of all ages since its founding in 1901. For more information, visit MiLB.com.


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