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Winter Week is Next!

Hello all,

Letter H is for Helping Week was honorable, humbling, and of course FULL of Helping!   For the first time this year, the students held off on bringing shares to school so the sharebox was completely empty.  However, the students did not come to school empty handed.  All week long, the students (and their parents) entered PPA with assorted canned goods and dried food.  This food was collected throughout the week and on Friday was donated to the C.A.U.S.E. Food Pantry, a local organization located at 739 Bergen Avenue that helps feed families from all over the surrounding area.  Take a look at the photo below to see the donation from the extremely generous students (and families) of Park Prep.  We are sure that this donation will help fill the bellies of so many people this holiday season.  Thank you to all of the families that contributed to this large and impressive donation!


For their morning work on Monday and Tuesday, the students studied the letter H by completing their letter H coloring and writing/tracing activities.  In the afternoon, the student collaborated to create a list of words beginning with the letter H – also known as a letter H word list!  Here is the list they came up with.

The helping really began on Tuesday morning when the students had a discussion about what it means to help someone.  They concluded that helping was when you do something nice for someone else.  The students decided that everyone can help!  Below are some examples of ways that people help others every day.

1.  “Mommy helps me feel better when she gives me hugs and kisses after I fall down.”

2.  ”I helped Grandpa feel happy when I made him a card when he was sick.”

3.  “Teachers help kids learn.”

4.  “Doctors help kids and grown-ups get better when they are sick.”

After hearing about all the helping that is done each and every day, the teachers informed the students that they would be helping a very special group of people – the servicemen and servicewomen of the United States Military.  These brave men and women spend the holidays (and other days!) all over the world, away from their homes and families to help keep all of the people living in the United States safe!  While it is hard to express our gratitude entirely, the PPA students were eager to help in any way possible!

The PPA teachers knew just who to call to help the U.S. military!   The teachers contacted a very helpful and special Paramus, New Jersey school teacher named Jane Cosco.  Back in 2003, Mrs. Cosco was driving in her car and listening to the radio when a woman called in to inform the public of plans to cut military holiday budgets and ask for civilian donations for soldiers stationed overseas during the holiday season.

Finding this unacceptable, Mrs. Cosco rallied her middle school 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.  Operation Goodybag, as it was named, started out as an afterschool activity seven years ago and has grown tremendously!  Mrs. Cosco and her helpers have stuffed and sent over 217,000 goodybags to thank our troops!  In 2009, the students of PPA contributed 300 bags to that amazing and impressive number!  In 2010, the PPA students contributed another 373 bags to that number!  For her efforts, Mrs. Cosco was the recipient of the Call to Service Award by former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.  For all of the hardwork and generosity over the years, Operation Goodybag was recently awarded a federal grant from the Corporation of National and Community Service!   Talk about Helping others!



The students were thrilled to learn that they would be responsible for making goodybags later in the day with Mrs. Cosco and a few surprise guests!  The teachers explained that step one of making the goodybags involved decorating the bags!  The students got right to work that morning by coloring in the star and heart coloring pages that were later cut out and glued onto each bag.

Finally the time had arrived!  The afternoon was here and so was Mrs. Cosco!  Thanks to Miss Patty, Mrs. Cosco was accompanied by two Marine Corporals!  Childhood friends of Miss Patty, both Corporal Jonathan Rodriguez and Corporal Luis Cerna volunteered their time to come visit the students of PPA and discuss a bit about the Marine Corps.

 The students were so excited to meet Mrs. Cosco, Cpl. Rodriguez, and Cpl. Cerna!  After a quick welcome, Mrs. Cosco spoke a bit about the goodybags then began a technology presentation which contained PowerPoints created by her students!

Take a peek at the Marine Corps. PowerPoint!

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The students also observed a PowerPoint which showed students, just like them, stuffing and giving out goodybags to actual military servicemen and servicewomen!  From the looks on their faces, the servicemen and servicewomen really appreciated these bags!


After observing the presentations and seeing actual sailors and soldiers receiving goodybags, the students could hardly wait to get started creating them!  Watch below to see how each bag was created.

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The students and Marines worked feverishly until every last piece of candy was packed and goodybag was stuffed!

Take a guess as to how many goodybags they made!  100?  No! 200? No! 300?  No!


That brings PPA total to 1,073 goodybags in all!  That is A LOT of goodybags!

After all the goodybags were packed, the students had the opportunity to chat with Cpl. Rodriquez and Cpl. Cerna about their fancy uniforms!  Dress blues, as they are called, are the most formal of all Marine uniforms and are the only military uniform which incorporates all of the colors of the American flag!  Cpl. Rodriquez and Cpl. Cerna wore their uniforms proudly and explained all of the different parts of their uniform including their buttons, belts, ribbons, and badges.  They explained that the colorful ribbons on their chest were not worn simply for fashion, they are symbols that represent the different places around the world they have traveled to and the awards they have attained!  Each ribbon and badge was earned through hard work and determination!


The students took a break from creating the goodybags to say thank you to Cpl. Rodriguez and Cpl. Cerna as they presented them with extra special goodybags.  The students were so proud of their hard work and the Marines were very appreciative.  Cpl. Rodriquez and Cpl. Cerna were so appreciative that they let the students try on their hats!


A special thank you to Mrs. Cosco and Cpl. Rodriguez and Cpl. Cerna for spending time with us and for keeping us safe!  After the students’ efforts today, Mrs. Cosco’ s Operation Goodybag is  now 217,400 goodybags!  Keep up the great work Mrs. C!


The holiday helping continued on Wednesday as the students discussed another group that would benefit from a little Park Prep help – the seniors!  The teachers explained that seniors are people who have been alive for a VERY long time!  One student raised his hand and asked, “Alive for a long time – like 7 years?”  The teachers explained that seniors were more like SEVENTY-SEVEN!

Like everyone from time to time, seniors need a little extra care – particularly around the holidays.  The seniors that the PPA students decided to help are the permanent residents of the Hamilton Park Health Care Center located at 525 Montgomery Street in Jersey City.  The students spent their morning crafting beautiful and elaborate holiday cards for each of the 124 residents.  They turned out incredible!


Later that day, the teachers visited the Hamilton Park Health Care Center to hand out the cards to the senior residents.  The cards helped make everyone at the H.P.H.C.C. feel so special and happy during the holidays!


Thursday’s helping activity was all about Animals!  The teachers explained that some animals do not have a home or owners to take care of them.  Unlike the animals in the students’ houses, these animals have to find their own food and take care of themselves.  Fortunately, there are wonderful people who spend  their time to help these special animals by keeping them healthy, finding them a home and providing them with food to eat.

The students were so excited to learn that they would be helping these animals by spending the morning baking homemade cat and dog treats for them to eat!  Following the directions in the recipes, the students mixed together special ingredients and then placed them on baking trays which the teachers baked later that day.


Once all of the treats had been baked, the students colored  little dog and cat coloring pages and stuffed each bag with the appropriate picture to match the treat.  The doggie poems went into the bags for the doggies and the kitty poems were for the kitties.

The students could hardly contain their excitement when they learned that they would be paid a visit by two amazing representatives from the Hudson County Animal League, an organization that helps injured, stray or lost animals find homes with owners who will love and take care of them.  These representatives would be coming to PPA in the afternoon to help teach the students about the efforts of the H.C.A.L. and also to accept the students homemade dog and cat treats to be distributed and shared by all the animals helped by the H.C.A.L.  Miss Kathleen, pictured below, surprised the students by bringing a very special guest – Harry, a seven month old cat that was rescued by the H.C.A.L.

Miss Kathleen explained how Harry was all alone before the H.C.A.L. found him. Doesn’t Harry look so happy and healthy now?

The students presented the baked treats from the morning to Miss Kathleen who was so grateful for all of the students’ hardwork.


After the treats had been presented, the students had an opportunity to meet (and pet) Harry!  Needless to say, this was a highlight of the day!  Miss Kathleen (and probably Harry) was shocked to see how gentle the preschoolers were when handling an animal.  Before Miss Kathleen left PPA, the students presented her with a monetary donation to the H.C.A.L. on behalf of Park Prep Academy.  Miss Kathleen explained that this donation will help pay for food, veternariary visits, toys, and housing for animals just like Harry!  Fortunately Harry’s story has a very happy ending because immediately following his visit to PPA, Harry the cat was on his way to his “Forever Home”.  A “Forever Home” is what the H.C.A.L. calls it when one of their rescue animals is adopted by a family who will love and care for him forever!  The family was kind enough to delay Harry’s arrival so he could have a “star-moment” before heading to his new home.   A special thank you to Miss Kathleen and Harry for coming to PPA and teaching us about the H.C.A.L.  Also, a special thank you to Harry’s new family for allowing him to come to school and make his special day a bit more exciting!  🙂



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.  As the teachers recalled from last year, a video of the feedings was out of the question as it sounded like the doggies were in a “Who can bark the loudest?” contest!   The cats were much quieter and took their time eating the treats.  The cats 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 spent the morning preparing holiday treats and cards for local community helpers – the Jersey City Police and Firefighters!  Here are photographs of the police and firefighters accepting their treats!  Happy holidays and thank you for keeping us safe!

During the afternoon, the students participated in a technology presentation and discussion about all of the organizations that they helped this week!  Wow!  What a wonderful and busy 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.   Donations on behalf of Park Prep Academy were 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.

Operation Goodybag –

Hudson County Animal League –

Liberty Humane Society –

Hamilton Park Health Care Center –



PPA Winter Holiday Party – Wednesday, December 21st

(2:00-3:00 p.m.)

no aftercare available

Due to space, we kindly request that attendance is limited to PPA students and parent(s) only.

Winter Recess 12/22 – 1/2

School Resumes on Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Theme for Next Week: