Pasta challenge victory owed to community

By Darren Lum

Published March 7 2017

For the second year in a row the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School students and their community are standing alone as winners of The Great Pasta Challenge in its 15th year.
Over a two week period from Feb. 13 to 27 HHSS collected 2140 boxes for a per student average of 4.86 far surpassing second place Lindsay Collegiate Vocational Institute’s collection of 1637 boxes for a per student average of 2.67.

The win is rooted in how the community came together to support the school in its bid to win the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) challenge said HHSS Grade 12 student and the TLDSB student trustee Carmen Galea the lead at the school in this effort.
“It was a really nice thing for me to hear” she said regarding the win. “Two years in a row we came together to work on this as a community rather than just as a school. I think that makes a really big difference and says a lot about a smaller community” she said.
The recipients of the generosity will be the food banks of Haliburton Minden Wilberforce and Cardiff. Galea appreciated how this challenge will benefit all four municipalities in the county.

As a representative for all of the board’s schools (I.E. Weldon Secondary School Fenelon Falls Secondary School Huntsville High School and Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School) that participated Galea felt good about the schools’ total collection of 6899 boxes of pasta.
“It’s really good thing to hear about Haliburton winning but at the same time I wanted all the schools to do really well just because of my affiliation with all the schools” she said referring to her trustee position. “I was really happy to hear that Haliburton pulled together as a community and we were able to pull it off again because there was friendly banter between the other schools.”
Galea had a long list of people she credits with helping her ranging from friends such as Cassidy Glecoff Jayden Gwyn and Liam Bergman to school staff and faculty which includes principal Dan Marsden vice-principal Dave Waito and head secretary Jackie Mayhew.

Support for this challenge also came from the public and area grocers such as Brad Park of Haliburton Foodland and Steve Todd of Todd’s Independent in Haliburton Linda Easton of Valumart in Minden Jamie Dollo of Dollo’s Foodland in Minden and Craig MacDonald of Wilberforce Foodland.
Mayhew said Todd and Park were instrumental to the success of this effort.
“None of this would be possible without them” she said.
HHSS has the makings of a dynasty going with its two consecutive wins ousting the challenge’s previous double-winner LCVI which won this challenge back in 2014 and 2015.
It wasn’t without work for students and faculty as daily announcements were made but also awareness was raised through social media posts hallway posters by PALS students and lunch hour events such as an eating contest. There were also impromptu class challenges and sporting event buyouts (with food) led by teachers. A pair of photos in the Echo also contributed.
Although the HHSS totals were lower this year compared to last year’s 3612 donations of pasta (or 7.92 boxes per student) the total collected by all seven schools was down. There were only 6899 boxes collected by all the schools this year compared to 13067 last year.
The lower numbers Galea said are attributed to less overall demand for pasta as there was pasta left over for the area food banks in the county and for Muskoka food banks. She adds there have been discussions about collecting pasta sauce or other items.

An extra point was awarded for whole wheat pasta which factored in the victory for HHSS. The final results were adjusted by school population to account for population differences between schools.
The motivation behind this victory comes from helping the organizations that help others here Galea said.
“This is just our way of giving back to organizations that do so much. Especially because there are definitely low income families [with students] that go to schools in TLDSB and do benefit from this” she said.