Thanks to nearly 10,000 photos posted online of children and adults enjoying apples and apple snacks, Langston Chapel Elementary School has $10,000 to spend on playground improvements plus $1,500 to buy iPads for fifth-grade reading. The school won both first place and third place in the U.S. Apple Association’s Apples4Ed contest.
By the Nov. 15 deadline, students, teachers, parents and other LCES supporters had posted 7,764 photographs that were included in the official count for the Playground Makeover project alone. Meanwhile, the Classroom iPads project netted 1,943 photographic votes.
Prekindergarten teacher Katie Jasionowski, who led the playground project, heard the news Monday from the Apple Association. She promptly informed the principal’s office and was allowed to make the announcement to students.
“When I got on the intercom, I told them we had our results as promised today and that they were giving us not one, not two, not three, but $10,000 towards our new playground,” Jasionowski told the newspaper, “and I thanked the kids for being excited and passionate about our school and our project.”
Exactly what playground features will be added is still being worked out as faculty members look for ways to make the money go as far as possible, she said. Part of her plan is to add some landscaping and shade.
Fifth-grade teacher Melanie Kirby led the other project, Boosting Creativity with iPads. She proposed to buy a classroom set of mini iPads to pique “student interest and boost creativity using applications, e-books and other activities” according to the description on the Apples4Ed website.
With the $1,500 third prize, Kirby would be able to buy only seven or eight mini iPads. But the teachers are aware of another donor who may help fund the purchase of a full classroom set, Jasionowski said.
The contest started the week before fall break.
“We actually were behind for a while, and we were in second place for a good bit there, but we took a turn and took the lead,” said Jasionowski.
Among other tactics, the school held an Apples4Ed Day. Party Harbor donated the use of two bouncy houses, and during each class’s Fun and Focused Friday activity time, students went outside and took apple pictures and enjoyed some recreation.
At other times, a photo booth with props was provided in the hall. In the last week of the competition this included a Christmas tree, a wingback chair, Santa hats and the slogan “All I want for Christmas is a playground makeover.”
Wendy Brannen, the Statesboro native who is consumer health and public relations director for the U.S. Apple Association, organized the Apples4Ed “Buy an Apple, Help a Student” campaign. She recruited manufacturers of food products that can be paired with apples to provide the funding for educational projects. The sponsors were Marzetti, which makes a caramel dip; KIND Snacks; Roth Cheese and Johnsonville Sausage.
Two nonprofit organizations, plus schools and school districts in Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, and Washington state, took part. All 12 projects that competed received some money, but Langston Chapel Elementary, with its two projects, claimed more than half of the total.
“I’m elated that, with our program sponsors, we have been able to raise $20,000 in our inaugural year for participating schools,” Brannen said in an email.
She added that Statesboro and the Langston Chapel area are fortunate to have teachers such as Kirby and Jasionowski.
“These two teachers went above and beyond to take advantage of the true intention of U.S. Apple’s Apples4Education program, which was to help schools that needed help and, in the process, expose more children to healthy foods like apples,” Brannen said.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.