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McKeesport Area students get tasty lessons on Johnny Appleseed

| Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 2:31 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Focusing on fall apples, McKeesport Area kindergarten classrooms at Twin Rivers and Francis McClure primary schools celebrated Johnny Appleseed Day on Wednesday. Singing songs and reading stories, students took part in apple-related projects before tasting their very own homemade applesauce. Kindergarten teacher Paulena Batis stirs the applesauce with the help of students Karma Howell, Aden Stone, and Jacob Cherepko.
Francis McClure Primary kindergartners followed a recipe to make applesauce. They also participated in apple tasting and graphed the results.

McKeesport Area elementary students made applesauce, hats and other crafts as part of learning about an American folk hero on Wednesday.

John Chapman, known as the pioneer farmer Johnny Appleseed, was born in Leominster, Mass., on Sept. 26, 1774.

He introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, among other areas. He made his last trip back to Ohio in 1842 after spending 50 years walking throughout the countryside.

Kindergartners at Francis McClure Primary and Centennial Elementary schools worked with apples in math, science and other common core classes to celebrate Appleseed's birthday. Students in each school made applesauce.

“I do love applesauce because it makes my tummy yummy,” said Centennial student Kaylee Moon, 5.

“I made a pot and I was wearing it,” said Centennial student Karmna Howell, 5. “I didn't put anything in my hat. (I learned) you can make applesauce and apple juice. They're good. It's cool.”

“Johnny Appleseed wore a pot because he didn't have a hat,” Centennial teacher Paulena Batis explained. “It was just like an apple explosion today. These are the best kids. They definitely really enjoyed it. It went really well.”

Students like Centennial kindergartner Jacob Latino were excited to watch the Disney short film based on Johnny Appleseed.

“I don't want to miss the movie,” Jacob said. “When I first got here we squashed applesauce into little pieces. (Apples are) the best stuff ever. They're juicy and I like them.”

“They're very engaged. They really enjoyed it,” Centennial teacher Karen Hronec said. “Some of us are going to continue Thursday and Friday and make a week-long event.”

“We tasted various kinds of apples and graphed the results of which ones we liked the best,” Francis McClure teacher Tamara Ekis said. “The kids really enjoyed it. They were very receptive. We found the star in the apple and used paint to stamp it, and then used our sight words to write about the stamp we made.”

“It's hands-on learning so they're very excited to be doing those different things and moving around the room,” Francis McClure principal Tom Knight said. “The kids actually helped use some plastic knives to cut up the apples and measured out what they needed for the different ingredients. I think giving them the real-life opportunity to experience things is definitely something we're looking to do.”

McKeesport Area first-graders will have their celebration on Friday.

Francis McClure first-grade teacher Kelly McCloskey said students will rotate through seven stations and participate in activities similar to those the kindergartners experienced.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or

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