Strelitz International Academy Fifth Graders Give Back

Fifth-grade student Yael Haas presents her research on Tzedakah.

By Rashi Brashevitzky

The intersection of learning and action is a beautiful place.

Research, learning, and action were all displayed at SIA’s Fifth Grade Exhibition on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. As an IB® World School, the fifth graders document their learning, research, and action, presenting it at the Primary Years Programme Exhibition.

Using Chumash (Torah text study) and science as a springboard, the fifth graders jumped into the study of Tzedakah (charity) and food insecurity—forming inquiries into how to help hungry people in Hampton Roads.

The fifth graders began their journey by conversing with a community member who grew up food insecure. After hearing about this person’s experience, the students met with another community expert who discussed the different ways they could demonstrate the teachings of Tzedakah. From there, the students jumped into action.

Putting their science lessons to good use, the fifth graders visited the garden at the Fred Heutte Center in Norfolk. They learned about the garden and how they grow thousands of pounds of produce, which they donate to the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia. The class helped the master gardeners with weeding and planting. Students harvested some of the produce to take back to school to prepare Thanksgiving dishes for a Jewish Family Services family.

Students continued their study of Tzedakah and food insecurity, looking for more ways to help the local community. When studying the different food blessings, they donated a chopped salad for the ForKids in South Norfolk organization. Also, the fifth graders delivered the salads and toured the ForKids family shelter. After learning about the great need to feed families and the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables, they felt inspired to do even more!

The fifth graders created a slideshow about food deserts, food insecurity, and ForKids, and presented it to students in Early Years 4 to fourth grade. The SIA community then donated fresh fruits and vegetables to the Produce Drive. ForKids was very grateful when the fifth graders dropped off more than 650 pieces of fresh produce!

Being on a shared campus with Jewish Family Services, the fifth graders were eager to help while close to home. They met with Debbie Mayer and Jody Laibstain and learned about the food pantry program, offering their help.

The fifth graders have visited the food pantry numerous times throughout the school year to help sort through donations and stock shelves, as well as to help food pantry customers shop. They also noted which items were running low and organized a food and supply drive to encourage classes to each bring a different type of food or supply. The food drive buckets were filled to the top more than once! The fifth-grade class also took donor funds given to JFS and shopped for two cartfuls of food, paper goods, and hygiene products.

As the end of the school year neared, these students wished to help out one more time. They held a lemonade and bake sale, raising over $500 in just one day! The money raised was used to purchase bread, peanut butter, jelly, bananas, and potato chips for needy people.

At the Fifth Grade Exhibition, the students presented posters on their research and learning and shared their journey with Primary Years students, parents, and visitors. After visiting the different presentations, participants were invited to help make lunches for people in need. Each class had a different job in the process. The result? One hundred lunches were made and donated to Ghent Area Ministry for the many people they serve.

Fifth-grade student Yael Haas presents her research on Tzedakah.

Fifth-grade student Yael Haas presents her research on Tzedakah.
Fifth grade student Adielle Uduaghan with ForKids chef Teresa Licato.

Fifth grade student Adielle Uduaghan with ForKids chef Teresa Licato.
First grade students Gianna Eaglin and Elijah Perry participate in making bagged lunches for Ghent Area Ministry.

First grade students Gianna Eaglin and Elijah Perry participate in making bagged lunches for Ghent Area Ministry.

Indeed, the intersection of learning and action is a beautiful place.

The Strelitz International Academy is the community’s Jewish Day School and International Baccalaureate® World School for infants through grade 5. For more information, contact Ally St. Pierre, Admissions and Marketing Manager, at 757-424-4327, ext. 4188, or astpierre@strelitzacademy.org. or Schedule a visit!

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