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Letter “H” is for Helping Week

Letter H week was superb!  The students spent the week learning about and discussing the various ways that they can help other people.  All week long, the students brought in letter H shares.  Everything from hippos and horses to harmonicas, and even some dolls with crazy hair!  One student brought in a Happy Holidays card which was a great way to begin discussing the letter H, holidays, and particularly this week’s theme – the spirit of helping.

On Monday, the students had to trace/write the letter H, distinguish the letter H against other letter sounds, and color the letter H pictures. It was hard work but definitely fun! In the afternoon, the students woke up from rest time to a surprise guest!  Miss Charlotte, a former PPA teacher who relocated to Minnesota had stopped by to say Hello!  Some of the older students were confused for a minute but then quickly ran over to greet Miss Charlotte.

Miss Charlotte informed the students of what she has been up to over the past few months but by far her biggest news was that she and Dr. Kam are starting a family – she is five months pregnant!   Miss Charlotte got right back into the swing of things as she read a story and helped the students create a list of words starting with the letter H. Some of the highlights included: Hanukkah, helicopter, and Hero!  The students all got to hug or high five Miss Charlotte before she headed up to Connecticut to spend the holidays with her family.

On Tuesday, the students continued to work on their letter H tracing and identification activity sheets. In the afternoon, the students had Spanish class where they reviewed the vocabulary for all of the colors.  The students were split into small groups and sent to a specific area of the room.  Using a color spinner, the students had to take turns flicking the hand of the spinner and correctly identifying the color it landed on.  Once the student identified the color, the entire group had to scour the area for all things that color.  It was just like a letter hunt – but with colors!

Wednesday was the first craft day of the week.  In the morning, the teachers led a discussion about the different ways to help others.  The students brainstormed a very long list.  The highlights included: helping to make dinner, helping to take care of someone who is sick, helping someone who is in danger, helping someone who is lost and the last one was helping to cheer someone up by making them a card.  This was the perfect segue into Wednesday’s craft.

The students were informed that they would be making special holiday cards for the 160 elderly residents of the Hamilton Park Health Care Center located at 525 Montgomery Street in Jersey City.  Each student made four Happy Holiday cards – a snowman card, a Christmas tree card, a Hanukkah Menorah card, and a snowflake card.  The students worked diligently on creating each card and were even overheard talking about how excited they were to give away the cards to their new friends at HPCC!

Considering the well-being of both the students and the residents of the HPCC, the teachers decided that it would probably be wisest for the teachers to distribute the holiday cards, rather than the students.  After school, the teachers headed to HPCC and here is a video to show how the cards were received.

On Thursday morning, the teachers showed the students how happy their cards made one of the residents at HPCC.  Here is the hilarious video of what happened during the first small group viewing of the clip. Good thing Miss Elizabeth has a great sense of humor!  🙂

Later on, the students set out to help another group of friends – this time it was animals!  All morning long, the students followed some yummy recipes for holiday flavored doggy and cat treats.  After mixing all of the ingredients, the students had to use holiday themed cookie cutters to shape the treats.  Into the oven they went and about 30 minutes later, the treats were ready!

Later in the afternoon, the students were paid a visit from Phyllis Melito, the Vice President of the Hudson County Animal League, and her animal loving friend, Margaret.  The women spoke to the children about what the HCAL does and the different ways that they help the animals find homes.  The students were fascinated and could hardly wait to present the women with what they had made.  The boys presented the dog treats first and then the girls presented the “kitty-cat” treats.

Phyllis and Margaret were so appreciative of the students’ hard work and generosity and they decided their efforts should be rewarded – with Dunkin Donut Munchkins!  Afterwards the students had an animal-like dance party with the ladies before saying goodbye for the day.

After school, a few of the teachers took four full cookie trays over to the Liberty Humane Society facility located at 235 Jersey City Boulevard.  The Liberty Humane Society houses both cats and dogs, all of whom were in the mood for a tasty treat!  The animals seemed so happy as they devoured the treats the students baked.  The doggies were so excited to eat the treats that the video of the teachers feeding them just sounds like the doggies were in a “Who can bark the loudest?”contest!  The cats were much quieter and took their time eating the treats.  They all seemed to have a general rule about the cookies- play with the treat first, lick the treat, then eat the treat!  Regardless of how they went about eating them, one thing was clear – they were yummy!  Here are some of the highlights from our visit to the Liberty Humane Society.

On Friday, the students were visited by Jane Cosco, the founder of Operation Goodybag.  Operation Goodybag started in November 2003 when Jane heard that there would be cuts to holiday budgets for the military.  Jane, a school teacher in Paramus, rallied her students to volunteer their time to stuff goodybags with special treats that would be sent over to the troops stationed in Iraq and away from their families during the holiday season.  What started out as an afterschool activity six years ago has grown and Jane and her helpers have stuffed and sent over 125,600 goodybags to thank our troops!  For her efforts, Jane Cosco was the recipient of the Call to Service Award by Former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.  It was an honor to have her at Park Prep today to help us help others on Letter H week!

The students could hardly wait to get started creating the goodybags!  The students colored in the star and heart coloring pages that were later cut out and glued onto each bag.

While the teachers were assembling the bags, the students sat with Miss Jane and watched some of her amazing student created presentations about the troops.  Here is a video of the Navy Themed Presentation.

Once the bags were all ready, the students began stuffing them with thank you poems, special notes, and A LOT of candy. After the students’ efforts today, Jane can add another 300 bags to the Operation Goodybag total!

Later in the afternoon, the students had an opportunity to meet some naval officers from the Navy Recruiting Office in Jersey City.  The officers were impressed with how much the students knew about the Navy and the military as a whole.  One thing that the students didn’t know was how to salute.  They picked it up quickly!

After some more fun, the students presented the naval men and women with the goodybags they had made.  The students were so proud of their hard work and the naval officers were very appreciative.

The naval officers weren’t the only ones going home with goodies!  The students were so excited when the officers distributed some Navy toys to help the students remember their visit!

The teachers also rewarded the students for all of their hard work by giving them fruit snack packs to enjoy.  The naval officers and the students sat and enjoyed their treats together.

Once the fruit snacks were gone, the students invited their new friends to join them in a PPA and Naval Officer Dance Party!  Be sure to check out the video below to get in on the fun!

A special thank you to ENC William Holly, GSM2 Terrence Erroch, LS2 Erica Baskerville, UT2 Mohammed Islam, LS2 Ismael Oquendo for spending time with us and for keeping us safe!

What a wonderful week of helping!  The students will surely be in the holiday spirit as we head into next week!  Park Prep Academy staff and students would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the organizations that opened their doors to us this week.   A donation on behalf of Park Prep Academy was made to each of the groups that helped make H week so special.  We hope that everyone enjoyed spending time with us as much as we did with them.  See you next week!


To learn more about or to donate to any of the organizations that the PPA students helped this week, please visit any of the following links.

Hamilton Park Health Care Center
Hudson County Animal League
Liberty Humane Society
Operation Goodybag