Strelitz International Academy’s fifth graders take lessons to heart

by | Jun 8, 2023 | Other News

ForKids chef Teresa Licato with fifth grade student Adielle Uduaghan.

Research, learning, and action were all on display at Strelitz International Academy’s fifth grade exhibit on Tuesday, May 23. Since SIA is an IB® World School, the fifth graders document their learning, research, and action and present it at the Primary Years Program exhibition.

Using Chumash (Torah text study) and science as a springboard, the fifth graders jumped into a study of Tzeddakah (charity), food insecurity, and an inquiry into how to help people who are hungry in Hampton Roads. The fifth graders began their journey with a conversation with a community member who grew up food insecure. After hearing about this person’s experience, the students met with a community expert who discussed the different ways in which Tzeddakah can be given – and from there, the students jumped into action.

The fifth graders visited the garden at the Fred Heutte Center in Norfolk where they learned that the thousands of pounds of produce grown there are donated to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia. The class helped the master gardeners with weeding and planting and even harvested some produce to take back to school, using it to prepare Thanksgiving dishes for a family served by Jewish Family Service.

Students continued their study of Tzeddakah and food insecurity and looked for additional ways to help the community. When studying the different blessings for foods, the students decided to make chopped salads to donate to ForKids in South Norfolk. The fifth graders delivered the salads and got a tour of the ForKids family shelter. When these young students learned about the great need to feed families and the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables, the fifth graders resolved to do even more.

The fifth graders created a slideshow with information about food deserts, food insecurity, and ForKids. Then, they visited students in the younger grades to share the information. The entire SIA community was invited to donate fresh fruits and vegetables for a Produce Drive. ForKids was grateful when the students delivered more than 650 pieces of fresh produce.

Being on the campus with Jewish Family Service, the fifth graders were eager to help close to home. After meeting with Debbie Mayer and Jody Laibstain of JFS and learning about the food pantry program, the students offered to help. The fifth graders visited the food pantry numerous times to help sort through donations and stock shelves, as well as to help food pantry customers shop. The students also noted which items were running low and organized a food and supply drive, filling the food drive buckets more than once. The fifth-grade class also had the opportunity to take donor funds given to JFS and shop for two carts of food, paper, and hygiene products.

As the end of the school year neared, these students wished to help one more time, so they held a lemonade and bake sale, raising more than $500 in just one day. The money was used to purchase bread, peanut butter, jelly, bananas, and potato chips for the needy.

At the Fifth Grade Exhibition, the students presented posters on their research and learning and shared about their journey with all students, parents, and visitors. Finally, participants were invited to help make lunches for those in need. Each class had a different job in the process that culminated in making 100 lunches that were donated to Ghent Area Ministry to be distributed to the many people they serve.

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Strelitz International Academy is the community’s Jewish Day School and International Baccalaureate® World School for infants through grade 5. For more information, contact Ally St. Pierre, admissions and marketing manager, at 757-424-4327, ext. 4188 or

-Rashi Brashevitzky