Friday, February 12, 2010

Students Help Penguins

Students waddle like penguins to help their feathered friends

By KEVIN CALLAHAN • Courier-Post Staff • February 9, 2010

Penguin images fill a clothesline during the recent Waddle-A-Thon educational event and fundraiser at Chesterbrook Academy. (AL SCHELL/Courier-Post)

MOORESTOWN — The penguins are not mascots or pets. They aren't a favorite NHL team. They are more like family.

The young students at Chesterbrook participated in a Waddle-A-Thon on Jan. 27 to raise money to adopt Chester and Brook. The children at the Nobel Learning Community school walked like a penguin for the sponsorship money and the International Penguin Conservation Work Group made the adoption possible through its adopt-a-penguin program.

Kathy Feid of Moorestown came to school to see her 4-year-old son William waddle, learn and help.
"They are so excited about this, they all wore black and white," Feid said. "They are also doing something philanthropic, it is making their world a smaller place."

By adopting a penguin, the students aren't just acquiring a cool cyber creature they can check out on the Internet and through pictures. They are also supporting environmental awareness and advocacy.
Cullari, who has been principal of the school for two years, also has a daughter at Chesterbrook Academy -- 2-year-old Grace.

"I am going to waddle like that," Grace said when seeing her classmates practice the penguin walk.
"She has learned so much about penguins," said Cullari, a Medford resident, about Grace. The Waddle-A-Thon was part of Penguin Week from Jan. 25 to 29. For five days, the preschool students learned about penguins and their chilly habitat.

"They also learned how the environment affects them," Cullari said.
Commercial fishing around the Falklands in the South Atlantic Ocean has reduced the fishery level and therefore the food supply for penguins. Also, oil spills have affected the natural surroundings."We did a Penguin Day last year, but we wanted to take it further this year," Cullari said.

Cullari wanted to bring a penguin to school, but that wasn't feasible. Instead she researched online for a program that promoted and protected penguins and found the International Penguin Conservation Work Group, which was formed in 2000.

The organization promotes penguin conservation worldwide by drawing international attention to the threats facing penguin populations. The organization allows individuals and organizations working with penguins to share ideas and information and to provide international support for local conservation issues. Through the program, the students will be able to check out their adopted penguins for an entire year through updates. The names of their penguins will be placed over their little ice caves or burrows.

"They will even be able to follow if they have chicks," said Cullari. The cost to adopt a penguin for a year is $49. Chesterbrook raised enough money to adopt two penguins and extra money to give to the organization.
For the Waddle-A-Thon, the students -- ages 2 to 4 -- dressed in black and white and did the penguin strut by waddling side to side with short steps.

The youngsters participated in a number of penguin-related activities, including pin the beak on the penguin, the penguin waddle-hokey-pokey and penguin math games. In addition to the Waddle-A-Thon, the Chesterbrook Academy held a bake sale and partnered with a local restaurant to hand out fliers stating a portion of proceeds from purchases would go toward the project.

"They have been walking and waddling and squatting and talking ever since," teacher Wenona Jackson of Pennsauken said about the children's interest since hearing of the program.
Reach Kevin Callahan at (856) 317-7821 or


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