Author Archive

Paper Garden: Art from Recycled Material

Written by Peter. Posted in Education, Sustainability

– by Jen Carcich [Editor:  Welcome spring!  While it’s been too cold for much to be growing outside in Mother Nature, Jen’s 2/3 class has been busy bringing spring inside in a sustainable way.  Enjoy these colorful photos of sustainable art: the recycled and repurposed paper garden!] Our spring garden was created in March by the students during Art Center time.  The children were given a set of oral and written directions and then were set free to create!  Everything on the board came from paper items that were re-purposed:
  • The four leaf clovers were made from toilet paper rolls cut into thin rings, bent into heart shapes, then painted and glued together with Elmer’s glue.
  • The flowers were made out of old holiday and greeting cards and egg cartons.  The children first cut one “cup” from the egg carton, then chose a greeting card.  They used a cup to trace a large circle and a small circle from the card.  They snipped the edges of the card circles and bent then upward to make the petals.  They then glued the egg cup onto the big circle and glued the small circle into the egg carton.  This created the flower head.  The stems were cut from scrap wallpaper. The “grass” was repurposed from sections of an old wallpaper book.
paper-gdn-1 Students used scrap-paper and wallpaper to design their diamond kite bodies.  Paints, crayons, markers, magazines and wallpaper may have been used for decoration, depending on how the child wanted it to look.  The kites’ tails were also made from a variety of scraps: yarn, ribbon, fabric or wallpaper. paper-gdn-2 Our garden is filled with unique Eco-friendly flowers and kites to welcome in the spring. 🙂 paper-gdn-3     j-carcich-headshot     Jen Carcich is Unity Charter School’s 2/3 learning group teacher.

Teacher Feature: Jen Carcich

Written by Peter. Posted in Education, Unity Charter School in the News

– by Ronni Arno Blaisdell A teacher for over fifteen years, Jen Carcich has always wanted to work at Unity. She and her family live our mission every day. They compost, walk to town, ride bikes to run errands, shop locally, eat organic, belong to a CSA, and re-use and recycle.  Jen was thrilled to get the opportunity to join Unity last year, because it’s the perfect blend of both her personal and her professional worlds.  Jen often works with the Sustainability Committee on ways to educate the CommUnity on sustainable living. j-carcich-teacher-feature When Jen isn’t teaching, she loves to go camping and fishing. A runner, Jen loves the outdoors and spends as much time there as she can. As part of Jen’s interest in living holistically, she is a Level 2 Reiki provider. Jen lives with her family, a big dog named Ruby Jo, and two grey cats named Luke and Leia.   ronni arno blaisdell portraitRonni Arno Blaisdell is a Unity mom to a 7th grader and a 5th grader, a member of the Board of Trustees, and the Co-Chair of the Sustainability Committee.  Ronni is a Holistic Health Counselor and a writer and contributor to numerous health-related magazines, newsletters, websites, and blogs.

Grounds Cleanup Day at Unity Charter School

Written by Peter. Posted in Civic Responsibility, Sustainability

– by Tanya Seaward On Saturday, April 13th, a small but dedicated group of Unity Charter School volunteers came together to move a mountain.  Literally.  A mountain of mulch that needed to be spread in our playground and garden area.  Our volunteers spread as much mulch as they could manage, worked hard to get the compost back on track, and fixed the garden fence to keep out those pesky groundhogs! Despite the fact that our families are drawn from many different towns and counties in New Jersey, UCS has always prided itself in having a strong sense of “commUnity.”   That Saturday afternoon, “commUnity” was built shovelful by shovelful, and wheelbarrow full by wheelbarrow full, when our volunteers pitched in and got their hands dirty.  Literally. Take a look at our commUnity in action:

Rob G., alumnus Ian P., and Mark C.

Margaret H. raked all day!

Margaret H. raked all day!

Grade 2/3 teacher Julia K cleaning up the garden beds.

Grade 2/3 teacher Julia K cleaning up the garden beds.

Foreground: alumna Ariel P; background: Julia K.

Foreground: alumna Ariel P; background: Julia K.

Ilya K. made a huge dent in the mulch pile!

Ilya K. made a huge dent in the mulch pile!

  portrait of Tanya Seaward Tanya Seaward is a Unity mom to three students; Jeremy, Abby and Theo.  She is a member of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Communications Committee.  Tanya is a Chartered Accountant who enjoys gardening and leisurely rides on her bike (no hills please!).  

The Trend is My Friend

Written by Peter. Posted in Health and Nutrition

-by Ronni Arno Blaisdell

I have this somewhat useless talent of being able to pick up on food trends.

I couldn’t tell you the next big fashion statement, or the next hot song, or the way the stock market will go, but if you want to know about where the future of food is headed, I’m your gal.

Back in the day I predicted the passion with protein, the fetish with fat-free, and the curb of carbs. More recently I predicted the organic obsession, the local lure, and the kale craze.

What can I say? Some people read palms; I foresee food fads.

When I became vegan in 2004, the people who even knew what that word meant (and there weren’t many of them) thought I had lost my mind. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked, “But where will you get your protein from?”… Or, worse yet, the people who didn’t say anything and just stopped talking to me, muttering “freak” under their breath as they headed for the nearest burger joint.

But this post really isn’t about whether or not to be a carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, or chocolateivore (I made that last one up… all blog posts should mention chocolate at least once). This post is about food trends.

I usually shop at Whole Foods, simply because there are so many wonderful options for me there. Where else can I get a gourmet meal, complete with a fresh salad, a savory hot bar, steaming soup, and some vegan chocolate mousse to top it off (remember, all blog posts should mention chocolate at least once)? But today, it just so happens that another grocery store was on my way home. And, since we only needed a few things, I figured I’d run in there. It had been a while since I shopped at a grocery store besides Whole Foods, and I was pleased with what I saw.

First of all, the “natural foods” section was packed. And I mean, packed! I bonked my cart into someone else’s cart at least half a dozen times. (Although I am great at choosing healthy foods, I’m not so good at cart driving). Next, I noticed that the produce section was bursting with some great-looking, and sometimes organic (!) produce. And better yet, people were buying it! The coffee bar in the store had soy milk. SOY MILK! And, to top it all off, they even had a section for gluten-free products… it was tiny, but it was there! What a beautiful sight!

Of course, Unity’s always been way ahead of its time when it comes to food.  We started with a vegetarian lunch program before vegetarians were hip.  We were sustainable before sustainability was fashionable.  At Unity, families care not only about what’s on their kids plates… but also what kind of plates those are!

Experts say that there isn’t one way of eating that works for everyone, but they can all agree that we should all be eating more vegetables, fruit, and unprocessed foods. And the trend seems to agree! Thanks to national television shows like “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” “The Dr. Oz Show,” and countless shows on the Food Network, people are becoming educated on healthy, sustainable foods. Authors like Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser are on the best-seller list. “Food, Inc.” and “Supersize Me” are blockbuster films. Everybody’s catching the sustenance subway, and everyone will benefit from that ride.

So what’s next? Here’s my prediction… the future isn’t only about what we eat. The future is about how we live. Being a junk-food vegan, living off of Doritos and Coke, isn’t where it’s at. The future of food will be about health and harmony. Are we eating sustainably? Are we wasting less? Are we embracing quality over quantity? Are we eating real food that is created by nature and not in a factory? Are we treating food as medicine, recognizing that it has the power to make us sick… or not? Have a conversation with your kids about this. Chances are, they’ve got something to say about the subject. Unity students are way ahead of the trend!

Food is not just food. It’s culture and wellness. It’s health and happiness. I believe that as our food choices improve, our communities in general will be more peaceful, our citizens will live longer and better, and our priorities will shift. We’ll choose people over principles, kinfolk over cash, and giving over greed. We’ll not only add more years to our lives, we’ll add more life to our years.

A pipe dream? Maybe. But the trend is my friend. I haven’t been wrong yet.

ronni arno blaisdell portrait

Ronni Arno Blaisdell is a Unity mom to a 7th grader and a 5th grader, a member of the Board of Trustees, and the Co-Chair of the Sustainability Committee.  Ronni is a Holistic Health Counselor and a writer and contributor to numerous health-related magazines, newsletters, websites, and blogs.

Earth Day at Unity Charter School

Written by Peter. Posted in Sustainability, Whole Child Education

– by Tanya Seaward In celebration of Earth Day on Monday, April 22, we put the question out to our commUnity:  “What sustainable changes has your family made since coming to Unity Charter School?” Here are some of the responses: “not useing paper tawols.” (sic) – Stevie, age 7 “reusing bags and not useing paper towls.” (sic) – Isabelle, age 8 “Carpooling for three years.” – Arnav, age 8 “Help the environment.” – Greydon, age 6 “Using the compost pile; using compost for the gardens; carpooling.  Using an electric car.” – all Lila O., age 7 [Special thanks to Lila O. for her prolific contributions to the blog! -Ed.] “Carpooling.” – Alison, age 12 “Carpooling … sometimes.” – Sierra, age 12 “Carpooling and low flow toilets.” – Ocean, age 8 “I bike to work once a week and my son bikes to school once a week.” – Jen C. “I would say the biggest change is that, while our practices have been fairly consistent, now we are more aware of what we do. Because our children are learning about sustainability at school, they are much more involved in practices at home and we have more conversations around sustainability and taking care of the earth.” – Catherine D. “Since Sarah started in Unity this year, we have made some great changes at home. We only use cloth napkins and use resuseable snack bags when taking snacks outside the home. We also use glass storage containers more and plastic bags less for storing leftovers. It’s small, but it’s a start!” – Deborah M. “We have learned so much from Unity’s vegetarian and zero-waste lunch program.  We use reusable containers, and my children don’t ask for the single-serve snack items anymore.  We eat a vegetarian meal at least once or twice per week, we are much more thoughtful about the food choices we make, and we all enjoy going to the Morristown Farmer’s market on Sundays! – Tanya S. “We have committed to more second-hand shopping in order to conserve the overwhelming resources that go into producing new items and featuring them in brick-and-mortar stores.” – Annalise S. “Buying produce from a local farmer: it reduces food miles and he uses sustainable farming techniques.” – Peter M.