Two groups were each awarded $2,500 in funding to bring their ideas to life at the Shark Tank-style event held at LeLacheur Park.
As a class project over the past few months, several Lowell students have put their creative thinking caps on to develop nutrition and physical activity-focused interventions to enhance the high school’s wellness environment.
After pitching their ideas in front of their peers, nine groups of students were then selected to present to a panel of judges. In less than 90 seconds, the groups of students had to convince the judges at the Canaligator Tank (name based off the popular TV show, Shark Tank) to invest in their idea. This event was held at the Spinner’s ballpark and hosted by New England Dairy & Food Council. On Wednesday May 16, 20 students took turns pitching their ideas on top of the Spinner’s dugout to judges and classmates in the ballpark seats before them.
At the end of the competition, two groups of Lowell High School students each received grants of $2,500 to fund their innovative school wellness ideas. One winning team consisted of junior Liz Hamel and sophomore Owen Flanagan. Their proposal of “Operation Healthy Lunch” involves incorporating a self-serve, fresh food cart (which will hold fruit, dairy, and other perishable items) will give school lunches an extra boost of nutrition. The other student winners were freshmen Kaitlyn Chartier, Allison Carrabis, Alexsia Ortiz, and Franceline Alexandre. Their plan to offer yoga at the high school to increase opportunities for physical activity and to reduce stress won the judges over.
Thanks to the grant funding provided by the dairy farm families of New England, the New England Dairy & Food Council, the Lowell Spinners, and other event sponsors, these creative ideas can now be turned into reality. This competition ignited the students’ entrepreneurial spirit while promoting a skillset that will reach beyond the classroom.
“The students came up with ideas, worked in teams to flesh them out, and then prepared a 90-second pitch that was succinct, thought-out, and compelling. Among other things, project development, public speaking, and leadership were skills they needed to make it here today. We’re really proud of them.” –Sharon Lagasse, General Manager of Food & Nutrition at Lowell Public Schools.
“It’s nice to see how everyone came together to support the high school students today. This type of project is great preparation for their future. The Lowell community members not only came to watch their pitches, but to network with them, talk to them about their goals, and support their school wellness efforts.” –Warren Shaw, a fourth generation dairy farmer at Shaw Farm in Dracut and radio host at 980 WCAP.
Teachers also played an integral role in the success of this event. Three teachers at Lowell High jumped on board after the New England Dairy & Food Council proposed this idea and adapted their curriculum to include the project: Stephanie Selvaggio, Science and Health Education department chair, Patrick Swett, Lead Wellness teacher, and Brendan Casey, health teacher. They also received support from Sharon Lagasse, General Manager of Food & Nutrition, and Alysia Spooner Gomez, RD and Food Service Director at Lowell Public Schools. Two Lowell High School alumni and active members of the Lowell Community, Kamara Kay and Ty Chum, stepped up to serve as Canaligator Tank judges, along with Lisa Robinson of New England Dairy & Food Council.
The day was a huge success and was enjoyed by students, teachers, and community members alike!