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Teachers plan to build wall of cereal

Students and teachers come together for cereal drive during James Lowe's absence.

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!
Students are encouraged to bring any cereal boxes to donate for the cereal drive. With all of the donations, a wall of cereal is made. This all goes to charity after the drive is completed. 
Picture credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/samplereality/550436093

https://www.flickr.com/photos/samplereality/550436093

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! Students are encouraged to bring any cereal boxes to donate for the cereal drive. With all of the donations, a wall of cereal is made. This all goes to charity after the drive is completed. Picture credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/samplereality/550436093

By Sydney Wilfong, Altoona Area High School

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With all the talk of walls in the news, perhaps the wall we all can agree on is the “Wall of Cereal” being built by teachers and students. The wall is an annual food drive where students bring in cereal boxes which are then stacked to create a wall of cereal. Once the drive is officially over, the cereal boxes are donated to charity.

David Aboud, Head of Student Council and Community Service, and the Student Council operate the cereal drive every year, reaching out to teachers and students to participate in this much needed cause.

“The cereal drive is an excellent way to develop compassion for others while increasing awareness about the issue of food insecurity and hunger that is prevalent in not just our community, but throughout America,” English teacher Jennifer Lowe said.

One of the local food banks in Altoona welcomes schools to donate cereal boxes, in hopes to expand their food inventory. Although there are ways to donate food throughout the year, in February the annual cereal drive is the one closest to the heart of James Lowe, tenth grade American history teacher.

James Lowe is the school’s biggest supporter and promoter of the wall of cereal and has inspired others to join the cause.

“Over the last few years, there has been a friendly rivalry between Mr. Lowe [her husband] and Mr. Palfey to see whose students donate more cereal, and that extra element of competition added by Mr. Palfey has been extremely effective in increasing donations,” Jennifer Lowe said.

Although James Lowe is unable to participate this year, his past efforts are building the wall even in his absence.

“He’s been so effective at inspiring students to participate that his classes are typically responsible for the most donations, so the cereal drive has become associated with him,” Jennifer Lowe said.

In his absence, teachers and staff have come together to collect as many cereal boxes as possible, not only to stock the food bank, but to honor James Lowe when he returns.

“I think it is great that the whole school is stepping up so that a cause that Mr. Lowe supports each year is not forgotten during his absence. We all appreciate how dedicated Mr. Lowe is to his students, school and community and are glad to help with the cereal collection this year when he couldn’t,” chemistry teacher Patricia Sohmer said.

Many students praise the concept of the cereal drive and even wish more charity events were similar to it.

“I think the cereal drive is a great way to get students involved with helping the community. We should definitely hold more events like this,” sophomore Sarah Weathersbee said.

Over the years, the drive has brought in hundreds of cereal boxes from dedicated students.

Teachers who are helping with the drive this year have noticed remarkable cooperation with their students who are more than thrilled to join the cause.

“It’s a really nice thing to do for all of the people that will be getting the cereal and for Mr. Lowe,” sophomore Julia Lane said.

To encourage students, many teachers promised their students extra credit for every box of cereal donated. Some; however, are relying on their students’ goodness of heart.

“My students are being extremely supportive. I suspect that my students will bring in nearly 100 boxes this year,” Sohmer said.

Students that have James Lowe are counting down the days until he returns.

“I think he will be very grateful for the amazing staff that organized it. I can’t wait to see his priceless reaction! Hopefully, he comes back soon, I miss him!” Weathersbee said.

Although James Lowe is absent during the cereal drive collection, he is likely to return to see the results and progress the school was able to achieve.

“Mr. Lowe is recovering well from his transplant surgery and will likely return to school earlier than expected, by the first week in February,” Jennifer Lowe said.

Through the cereal drive’s success with students, many believe that more can be accomplished throughout other drives or donations.

“There is no better feeling than helping others, and there are many people in our community who need help,” Jennifer Lowe said.

Those interested in helping build the cereal wall should ask their teachers if they are participating in the program or contact Aboud.

This story was originally published on Mountain Echo on January 31, 2019.

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