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Student Can Creations Build Awareness, Fight Hunger

Student Can Creations Build Awareness, Fight Hunger

The Innovation Hubs at Ridge Junior School and Lakota East High School were stocked with more than just books and technology this month. They were also the home to mounds of canned goods sculpted into true works of art.

The sculptures - also on display at Liberty and Hopewell junior schools as well as Lakota West High School - were the culmination of students’ responses to a community-wide challenge put forth by Reach Out Lakota. Called Can Creations, the first-ever friendly competition was designed to encourage local businesses, students and community groups to build sculptures out of items needed by the local food pantry. 

“Intentional service…that’s really important to us,” said Lakota East senior Julisa Munoz of the school’s National Honor Society, which stepped up to tackle the challenge. “Knowing that we were doing something to help improve our community was super gratifying.”

All together, the five participating Lakota schools built their creations out of about 2,300 items they collected through their individual food drives. 

Giant Rubik's Cube made out of cans with sign on top that reads "Solving the Puzzle of Hunger"

Lakota East led the pack, accounting for about 1,700 of the grand total. They leaned heavily on support from staff, for which they developed a competition, as well as attendees at this year’s East versus West girls basketball game. In the end, the group gathered on a Saturday morning to build their project centerpiece, a giant rubik's cube titled “Solving the Puzzle of Hunger" (pictured right)). The sculpture was also accompanied by an oversized lite brite that displayed “WE Can” on its screen and several cans cleverly shaped into hands to represent the concept of “helping hands.” 

Giant etch-a-sketch made entirely out of cans and pancake boxes

Over at Ridge Junior School, the Art Club took the lead, but enlisted the help of six other after-school clubs, including jazz band, drama, yearbook, STEAM Team, Boys Club and Girls POWER. While each group led its own individual drive, the art students ultimately formed each collection into an item that followed the “Throwback to the 80s” theme. This included everything from a giant Etch-a-Sketch (pictured left) and a polaroid camera to a boombox and a Nintendo Gameboy, among many other favorites. 

Each item was also paired with a QR code that when scanned, pointed to a video or article about that item - literally creating an entire museum of can creations. 

“The whole thing really made me think about the problem of hunger more,” said Ridge eighth-grader Ruby Hutchison. “I love this community and it’s our responsibility as a school to help how we can.”

Suspension bridge built entirely out of mac-n-cheese boxes, pancake boxes and some cans

Hopewell Junior School’s design and modeling class called their final masterpiece “Charity Crossing.” The suspension bridge was built entirely out of mac-n-cheese and pancake boxes, as well as canned tuna and tomato sauce. West’s Technology Student Association covered the top of each can to spell TSA when viewing their project from the bird’s eye view. The Liberty Junior Art Club grouped like-colored items together to build a rainbow-inspired structure (pictured above).

“Reach Out Lakota gives thousands of pounds of food each month, all year long,” said Scott Stephens, the pantry’s executive director who was grateful for the 27 local businesses, school groups and community organizations that registered a team for the inaugural event. “This competition will help bring in food long before summer when our shelves often run low.”

For the duration of the competition from Feb. 14-28, the community is invited to visit Reach Out Lakota’s website to view and vote for their favorite sculpture. Awards will be announced across multiple categories, ranging from most creative to the people’s choice award.