Students help to prepare ice cream for festival

NILES — While it may not seem like an ideal time for a scoop of ice cream, gallons of signature Hunter ice cream are sold every year during the three-day Hunter Ice Festival.   

To prepare for the onslaught of hungry festival-goers, Niles Cedar Lane students who are part of Reaching for the Reins program spent part of Thursday scooping ice cream into smaller, user-friendly containers for volunteers to use for the festival, which runs Friday to Sunday.

Angelecque Thornton, Niles Cedar Lane teacher, helped to supervise students throughout the process Thursday in the Niles Entrepreneurial Culinary Incubator. Eleven students from the program participated.

Niles Cedar Lane principal John Fonash said he was proud of the students for lending a hand.

“This is kind of just a different activity that helps them be aware of what’s going on in their community,” Fonash said. “They can see how it is organized behind the scenes and it gives them an opportunity to be part of that.”

Thornton said this marks the second year that students have helped with the festival. She said learning to give back to their community is an integral part of Reaching for the Reins. In the past, students have completed many projects with this goal in mind.

“The students are eager to help their community in positive ways,” Thornton said. “This year … they have provided service to their school through a school-wide beautification project. They made scarves for elementary school students, and several have helped a foster care neighbor by providing blankets and extra food for the holidays.”

The Reaching for the Reins program is an extension of Niles Cedar Lane, an alternative high school education opportunity. Students accepted into Reaching for the Reins learn leadership and mentoring skills, while also being taught how to care for horses. The youth then teach the skills they learn to children with special needs.

To be involved, students in Reaching for the Reins have to meet several expectations, including passing five out of six classes and maintaining an 85-percent attendance rate.

Thornton credits the program for continuing to encourage students in their academic careers.

“I have witnessed the students’ motivation towards grades and attendance increase in order to continue with the year-long program and earn an extra credit towards graduation,” Thornton said.

Hunter Ice and Ice Cream Company founders Henry and Lemont Hunter started selling the ice cream and dairy products using locally-sourced ingredients in the 1900s. The operation produced 400 to 500 gallons per day. The ice cream came in a variety of flavors and could be molded into a variety of shapes.

Thanks to Cedar Lane students, this year’s volunteers will be better equipped to dole out the sweet treat.

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