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Fifth-graders succeed at learning and service

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The final results are in and a holiday service learning project at Orono Intermediate School was un éxito muy grande (a very big success), raising $5,600.

“To have raised this much money is absolutely unheard of for a single sale,” said Colin Crane, one of the founders of The Pulsera Project,” and immediately places your school among a tiny handful of schools out of the 1,600 we’ve worked with that have raised even close to that much.”

Fifth-graders engaged in a six-week service learning project by studying the realities of poverty in Nicaragua while also opening their hearts and minds to the uplifting, colorful side of Nicaraguan and Guatemalan culture. They were encouraged to appreciate service beyond what they could provide and to consider what they could learn from another culture; a culture that is known for its happy people, close family bonds and respect for nature.

The Pulsera Project connects artists from Central America with students in American schools and organizes sales of colorful and unique handmade bracelets – known as pulsearas in Spanish. Rather than giving things to people, funds raised for The Pulsera Project empowers people with the skills, opportunities and education that allows them to provide for themselves and their communities.

Students organized an event to sell pulseras to students and staff at their school. Each of the eight classes had its own responsibility, such as writing biographies of the artists, advertising the event, creating informational signs and fliers, and teaching third- and fourth-grade students about the event.

The sale was held December 12-20. Initially, 600 bracelets and 30 small bags were ordered. In three days everything sold out, so another 400 bracelets and 30 bags were ordered. Once again, inventory was depleted. In all, students sold 1,000 bracelets and 60 bags to raise $5,600.

“Students and staff were blown away by the beautiful bracelets, and students have been asking for more,” said Jocelyn Veach, the OIS Spanish teacher. “Students felt a real connection to the people and artists we helped to empower through our sale.”

Funds raised will help pay the nearly 200 artists who created the bracelets and bags a fair wage, give university scholarships, provide health care, pay for computers and computer training in secondary schools, fund small business loans and support youth shelters and organizations.

Orono Public Schools