Students staying for after-school programs at the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School got a tasty treat on Thursday as the school gave out homemade smoothies at its “Mustache Night” celebration.
The event helped kick off the spring season of intramural events at the school, which range from sports to games to a drama club. It also recognizes grant contributions toward health and fitness initiatives awarded by the “Fuel to Play 60” program. The smoothies were made by students in the “Joy of Cooking” after-school club.
Gail Sharry, food service director for the New London Public Schools and leader of the club, said about the school received a total of about $3,800 in grants through the Fuel to Play 60 program. She said some of the money went toward purchasing the smoothie machines, which about a dozen students used to make the treats. Sharry said some 30 to 40 students were interested in the culinary club, but that she capped it at a smaller level.
“So now we need some more chefs to help us out,” she said.
Students bustled about the cafeteria, whipping up the drinks from strawberries, blackberries, bananas, orange juice, yogurt, and milk. People were also able to take their pictures at a photo booth to show off their “smoothie mustache.” Chayanne McNeil said she enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the club.
“We actually get to cook,” she said.
Ed Sweeney, a physical education instructor, athletic director, and after-school activities director at the school, said the clubs coincide with a healthy early dinner.
“We average about 150 kids after school,” said Sweeney.
Sweeney said the “Fuel to Play 60” funding comes from both the National Football League and the National Dairy Council. He said he, Sharry, and fellow physical education instructor Amanda Illinger applied for the grant funding, and that the smoothie event was one way to recognize the Dairy Council’s contribution.
The middle school has also created a fitness room out of two former adjoining classrooms. It is used by the sports clubs, including the newly resurrected wrestling club, as well as the “Tough and Buff Club,” which arrives early each morning for an hour-long workout before school starts.
“It was kind of a dream of ours to have the fitness center,” said Illinger. “I was glad that through this grant we were able to make it happen.”
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