School scoop - Lunch, the Civil War and potato clocks

By Mariah Albanese | Nov 09, 2012
Source: File image

An apple a day keeps kids away?

Lunch at Searsport District High School has changed drastically over the past few years. There used to be an ice cream cart of many flavors, and snacks including granola bars, rice crispy treats, chips and slushy machines — all at inexpensive prices — which students bought from every day. Main meals included mozzarella sticks, popcorn chicken and usually some kind of soup. As most of you know, healthier school lunches are required this year. Many students are upset about this, and claim the meals look gross and/or that they do not get enough to eat. More people bring lunch from home and some don't get lunch at all.

“I bring my own lunch, because I think we pay too much money for food that isn't even appetizing.” said Natty Gray.

According to USA Today, the old rule for lunch required a minimum of 825 calories to serve students in grades 7-12 every day. Updated standards call for a minimum of 750 to a maximum of 850 calories for the high schoolers. No disrespect to the lunch ladies, because they have to follow these guidelines!

Bringing the Civil War era to FES

Wednesday, Oct. 17, Sally Philbrick educated first- and second-grade classes at Frankfort Elementary School about life at home during the Civil War. Sally showed us many old photos of her ancestors, an authentic porcelain Civil War doll with all her layers of petticoats, and a book of paper dominoes. The dominoes were really neat, because soldiers wouldn't have been able to carry around the bigger boxes for entertainment.

Students learned that letter-writing was all anyone did for communication back then. Students saw a couple different types of desks that soldiers would use to sit under a tree and write. Sally told us about a letter that was written partly n mud because the author ran out of ink.

At various stations, students got to try on a costume dress with its hula hoop skirt, experience writing with ink, explore how clothes were washed, and look at authentic artifacts from Sally's ancestor Nathan Mayhew, all of which dated back to the 1860s. Stations with a red cloth meant "no" and stations with a green cloth meant, "go," informing the students what they could and could not interact with.

The main attraction was the Lincoln Commission. When Mayhew was a captain in the military, he received the president's signature and greetings. The Commission was displayed on the table, to the fascination of those who came by. Before the students left, they all posed for a group photo next to the Commission.

Family science night

Thursday, Oct. 18, was a very special night for the Waldo County 4-H program. This was a huge event at Searsport Elementary School hosted by the After School Program (a 21st-Century Community Learning Program) and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Waldo County 4-H Program. It was National 4-H Science week, and was also the very first after school program night where everyone involved was able to collaborate. This event was in acknowledgment of the National Lights On Afterschool and the 4-H National Youth Science Day. There were more than 220 visitors from all over Maine, and even one from Florida. To encourage families to have fun with science, a bunch of stations were set up in the gym. Most stations were student-led, and showcased a variety of science fields.

Mackenzie Alley led one of the stations. She told people about her 6-month-old box turtle named Speedy. She said she found him on her front lawn last May. That turtle is no bigger then the palm of her small hand. Moving on, there was a really neat station led by Dave Schofield called "Automation and Robotics." There was also a contraption called a potato clock sitting on the table, which makes itself useful by telling the time. Two potatoes are connected together by electrodes and then to a digital clock screen. The starch in the potatoes is what kept the time going.

Katrina Bunker showed off the amazing jumping coin. It was done by putting a bottle in ice water, taking it out, putting the coin on top of the lid and applying heat from your hands. Some of the other stations included: The Borax Slime Recipe by Allen Ingerson and Wade Brown, Bouncy Eggs, Rocket Balloons, Explosive Volcano, Eco Bots, Drawing with Crystals, Making Tornadoes, Dancing Raisins and Baking Soda Bubbles.

Mariah Albanese is a junior at Searsport District High School and will be working with the Journal this year to cover newsworthy events in RSU 20. Contact Mariah at

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