Councilman Kraft’s Fall Initiatives at TNCS

On Thursday, September 10th, The New Century School‘s Head of School Alicia Danyali met with two esteemed guests on important school business. Councilman Jim Kraft and Shriver Peaceworker Fellow Katie Miller joined Ms. Danyali to discuss what among their contests and other initiatives might work well for the TNCS community. Councilman Kraft is unique among Baltimore Councilmembers for his school partnerships. “I take a lot of pride in this because no other council[member] does this,” he said.

This kind of meeting is not new for Ms. Danyali, although it is likely the last with this particular pair of visiting dignitaries. She has met with Councilman Kraft annually to make sure that TNCS is both on his radar and to take advantage of the many opportunities his office offers First District schools. (See TNCS and Councilman Kraft: Outreach for Our Shared Community and TNCS Wins Southeast Baltimore City Recycling Competition! for the fruits of past tête-à-têtes.) Alas, he is an “outgoing” member with only 14 months and 27 days remaining in his term as of today—not that he’s counting, he joked.

But while he’s still a sitting councilman, he remains committed to the students in his district—a district he envisions as “safe, smart, green, and growing.” For Fall 2015, one special event and two contests will spark interest among the TNCS community.

Annual Cookout

tncs-councilman-jim-kraftFirst is a chance to meet and talk with Councilman Kraft himself at his 13th Annual Cookout on Saturday, September 19th from 4:00 pm–6:00 pm on the Crab Deck at Captain James Restaurant. This free event includes hot dogs, hamburgers, and adult and kid beverages for anyone who registers in advance by calling (410) 675-3074 or emailing jimkraft@verizon.net.

Healthy Harbor Poster Contest

And now on to the student contests! Councilman Kraft’s Healthy Harbor Poster Contest is well known around Southeast Baltimore and very popular among the K–8th-grade set. Young artists (ecological leanings helpful, but not a must) should draw their vision of what a healthy harbor should look like on this submission paper and email or mail to the address given by November 13, 2015.

tncs-councilman-jim-kraftPosters will be judged in three levels: K–2nd grade, 3rd–5th grades, and 6th–8th grades. The winning posters will be displayed at the Enoch Pratt SE Anchor Library from the Thanksgiving through Christmas holidays. Additional prizes include an award ceremony at City Hall as well as movie tickets to the Landmark Theatre with popcorn and all the trimmings!

TerraCycling

tncs-councilman-jim-kraftNew for this year is TerraCycling—an updated take on Councilman Kraft’s Recycling Contests of prior years (and which TNCS took first prize for in 2013!). TerraCycling aims to “eliminate the idea of waste”—in other words, start to think of everything as potentially having another useful incarnation. And when they say “everything,” they mean everything—down to the lowly cigarette butt!

The contest works in three steps: First, TNCS students identify the kind of waste they want to target (e.g., empty juice pouches); second, the “brigade” collects and sends the waste in to TerraCycle; and third, TerraCycle awards points based on volume collected. Councilman Kraft will then select winning schools based on both overall most points earned as well as by most points earned per capita to give smaller schools like TNCS a fair chance at the prizes.

Prizes? Lucky winners get a trip to the Baltimore Aquarium and lunch at the Top of the World restaurant, courtesy of Councilman Kraft. But that’s not all—TerraCycle gives back, too. With the collected materials sent in from all around the country, TerraCycle “scientartists” upcycle the goods into clever, functional products or even objets d’art. See their website for details.

And that’s still not all. TNCS can designate a non-profit to whom TerraCycle will give $0.01 for every point earned (2 pts. per item)!

All in all, Fall 2015 looks very promising for the TNCS partnership with the Office of Councilman Jim Kraft. Thanks for all you do for First District schools, Councilman Kraft!

TNCS and Councilman Kraft: Outreach for Our Shared Community

Partnering for Sustainable Community Growth

One relationship that The New Century School‘s Head of School Alicia Danyali works hard to cultivate is between TNCS and the surrounding community. That’s why she maintains frequent contact with Southeast Baltimore’s Councilman Jim Kraft. Councilman Kraft’s mission for Baltimore’s first district is to keep it “safe, smart, green, and growing”—which are certainly TNCS core values as well.

Councilman Kraft’s Communications Assistant Kaitlyn Golden explained that the Office’s approach to realizing this mission is via active involvement in the district’s schools. “Parents are community stakeholders,” she said, “and so they need to stay informed about what’s going on in their community. Schools are a great way to spread the news.” In addition, Councilman Kraft is passionate that Southeast Baltimore students are getting the best education and the best school experience possible. This does not stop with the student, however, but also means that families are getting the support they need to keep their kids in school and thriving.

Ms. Golden says that to this end, at the beginning of each school year, Councilman Kraft and members of his staff meet with each school principle in the district to map out what kind of assistance they might need from his Office. Some are more receptive to this partnership than others. “Ms. Danyali is great,” said Ms. Golden, “and is very proactive. We really appreciate when schools come to us with what they need because that’s how we can best help them.”

Thus, last month they paid their annual visit to TNCS to make plans, brainstorm initiatives, and discuss what interventions the Office could most helpfully make to further both the school’s individual goals and their shared goals for the community. “TNCS has a great set-up,” said Ms. Golden. “We love this wonderful learning environment, especially the greenhouse, which is such a unique outdoor education site. Ms. Danyali hopes to expand greenhouse learning opportunities, in fact, and asked the Office to mediate on TNCS’s behalf with BGE to move the big green electric boxes that occupy much of the available space surrounding the greenhouse. Negotiations are ongoing!

thames-street-park-playground

TNCS students regularly play at the Thames Street Park Playground. TNCS is helping fundraising efforts for a much-needed playground upgrade!

“Councilman Kraft is particularly pleased that the school is so involved in the community,” continued Ms. Golden, citing TNCS’s involvement with the Thames Street Park Playground upgrade as an example and explaining how the Office was able to facilitate that interaction. TNCS has just launched its Mixed Bag Designs fundraiser, proceeds from which will be donated to the Rebuild Thames Street Park Playground renovations. Order forms are being sent home with TNCS students and must be returned by 11/15/14.

What Else Is Happening?

So glad you asked! This fall two initiatives run concurrently—the Healthy Harbor Poster and Recycling Contests. Readers, you may recall that TNCS won last year’s Recycling Contest (read more here: TNCS Wins Southeast Baltimore City Schools Recycling Competition!). Katie Miller is the contact for the Recycling Contest, which began October 6th and runs through November 14th, and has already been working with TNCS students to help organize and manage this worthy project.

recycling-contest

Let’s make TNCS Recycling Superheroes 2 years running!

Each participating school creates a Recycling Team of 10–15 students, who collect their school’s weekly recycling and report the amount to Councilman Kraft’s Office. Prizes go to the school who collects the most recycling, based on a per-student ratio. Ms. Golden also helped out with this project by donating recycling bins for use in the multipurpose room and delivering them in person. Here’s to maintaining championship status TNCS! Give your TNCS student a leg up by reviewing What is recyclable.

The Healthy Harbor Poster asks students to draw their version of what a healthy harbor looks like. Winners will be selected for each of the following categories: Grades K–2, Grades 3–5, and Grades 6–8. This contest also started October 6th, and submissions will be accepted through November 14th. “We welcome all creative, thoughtful, and visionary Southeast students to participate!” said Ms. Golden. To download a entry form, click 2014 Healthy Harbor Poster Contest Flyer. Winning posters will be displayed at the Enoch Pratt Southeast Anchor library.

“And that’s not all,” she said. “There are other exciting projects I’m looking forward to following up on in the coming year, like the ‘If I Were Mayor’ Essay Contest for 4th graders this spring!” TNCS also looks forward to continuing this fruitful partnership with Councilman Kraft’s Office and doing our part to make Southeast Baltimore safe, smart, green, and growing!

healthy-harbor-contest

Southeast Baltimore kids, show us what your version of a healthy harbor looks like!

TNCS Wins Southeast Baltimore City Schools Recycling Competition!

This week, The New Century School elementary students had a very special visitor. Councilman Jim Kraft spoke to Ms. DuPrau’s and Ms. Roberts’s classes on December 16th and presented them with an official award as winners of the Southeast School’s 2013 Recycling Competition. Councilman Kraft was accompanied by Emily Sherman, a member of his City Hall office and a Shriver Peaceworker Fellow, and Robert Murrow, Baltimore City’s Recycling Coordinator (known to the kids as “Mr. Bob”). Ms. Sherman said that the contest’s goal is to “get students more aware of the impact of their recycling and also more aware of what can be recycled.” Surprisingly, many people still don’t know how easy—and how beneficial—it is to recycle, she reports.

Ms. Danyali introduces some very special guests and also opens the discussion about recycling.

Ms. Danyali introduces some very special guests and also opens the discussion about recycling.

Head of School Alicia Danyali began the presentation by asking students why recycling is important. Lots of kids gave great responses, but one boy’s answer, “So we don’t pollute the world,” kind of hit the nail on the head and is why the Councilman’s office targets schools. “We get to them while they’re young to instill healthy behavior, says Ms. Sherman. After a few more pithy yet adorable student responses, Ms. Danyali turned the floor over to the visitors.

It’s safe to say that Councilman Kraft really understood his audience. Dressed in Christmas-y hues with a holiday-patterned tie, he began by addressing the elephant in the room: “You guys don’t really want to hear what I have to say—you want to talk about Santa, don’t you?” Once the laughter and cheering subsided, Councilman Kraft had the audience in his palm. Well known for his pro-environment platform, Councilman Kraft has been holding this recycling contest for several years among his other green initiatives. (This was TNCS’s first year participating, but even as rookies, we held our own.)

Councilman Kraft presents Robert Murrow (a.k.a., "Mr. Bob") to a rapt audience.

Councilman Kraft presents Robert Murrow (a.k.a., “Mr. Bob”) to a rapt audience.

In fact, says Ms. Sherman, this year’s contest had the most participants to date. Going up against nine other areas schools, TNCS elementary students gathered recycling around the school into brown bags and reported to Ms. Danyali on a weekly basis, who, in turn, called City Hill with the week’s tally. She dubbed them her “Recycling Ambassadors,” and they competed not only against exponentially larger schools (with up to 700 students), but also against other students as old as age 18 years. (Note: Totals were assessed per capita rather than schoolwide to level the playing field for smaller schools such as TNCS.)

In their presentation, Councilman Kraft and “Mr. Bob” once again tapped into the kids’ seasonal excitement. “Santa Claus is the world’s biggest recycler,” said Mr. Bob. “We’re in constant contact,” he continued, “and we send out press releases to let everyone know that Christmas is a great time to recycle.” Wrapping paper, old electronics, styrofoam packing, cardboard, etc. can all be recycled, and it’s very important to remember to do so. Mr. Bob finished by asking the first-place winners to give themselves a big hand.

Councilman Kraft presents the award to a TNCS Recycling Ambassador.

Councilman Kraft presents the award to a TNCS Recycling Ambassador.

In addition to presenting a very official-looking certificate, Councilman Kraft also promised to donate several copies of The Lorax to TNCS’s library (the lorax also being very pro-environment—“[He] speaks for the trees.”). Best of all, the kids win a field trip to the Baltimore Aquarium plus lunch in early 2014.

The kids are brimful of questions about recycling . . . among other things.

The kids are brimful of questions about recycling . . . among other things.

As the City Hall delegation wound down their presentation, the kids had questions. Lots of questions. Including these directed to Mr. Bob: “Are you an elf? Will you show us your ears?” He was wearing green pants, after all. In all seriousness, though, Mr. Bob has helped make recycling a snap in Baltimore, which uses a single-stream method and requires no separating of recyclables into constituent materials.

TNCS elementary students have shown our community not only that recycling is so easy that anyone can do it but also that TNCS and Councilman Kraft fully support such environmentally sustaining practices. “TNCS was green to begin with,” said Ms. Sherman, “so this was icing on the cake!”

Update: On February 21st, the elementary students got their reward trip. See the delights!