Oysterponds Elementary students participate in ‘cereal box domino’ challenge

A massive spiral of 487 “cereal box dominoes” cascaded to the floor of the Oysterponds Elementary School gymnasium Friday as students, faculty and staff clapped and cheered.

The event marked Oysterponds’ first foray into the “cereal box domino challenge,” a popular, social-media-friendly charitable event where boxes of cereal collected for donation are lined up and toppled domino-style creating a chain reaction that both entertains and demonstrates the students’ success in gathering donations. 

Schools nationwide have participated in this challenge in recent years, and many examples of their “dominoes” can be found on YouTube, TikTok and elsewhere online. In 2021, a Guinness World Record was set by Long Beach Middle School in Nassau County, where 6,391 boxes were toppled. 


Oysterponds donated all of its “dominoes” to Southold’s Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation.

Karina Hayes, who manages CAST’s food relief program, said the school’s donation was “immeasurable” to the nonprofit, which currently serves 10% of Southold Town’s population and 30% of its children.

The cereal will be used for CAST’s “Feed a Kid” program, which provides breakfast, lunch and snacks for school-aged kids during vacations. The program also runs for eight weeks in the summer. 

“Last year we served 438 kids,” Ms. Hayes said. “So [Oysterponds has] come up with enough to serve the families that we serve. It’s amazing; it’s so wonderful to be able to get this right on time.” Winter recess for local school districts begins in less than  two weeks.

The idea to involve Oysterponds students in the challenge dawned on  school counselor Veronica Stelzer while she was scrolling through Pinterest before Christmas. But Ms. Stelzer credits her mother as well. 

“My mom, whether I wanted breakfast or not, she said, ‘This is your brain food. You have a long day of learning, you have to eat something in the morning.’ So to have this come full circle is just really important to me,” Ms. Stelzer said.


Students had all of January to collect donations and Ms. Stelzer said she was in awe of their participation — and the results. 

“I never thought we would get this many. I was like, ‘If every student brings in one box, we have about 85 students, maybe we’ll get a hundred boxes, and that’s awesome,’ ” she said. “And then all of a sudden we had students coming in with two armfuls of bags and I was like, ‘OK, this is turning into something.’”

Students from kindergarten through sixth grade were electric with energy as they walked into the school’s gymnasium at 2 p.m. to start setting up. The floor of the gym was labeled with tape to show students where to place their boxes.The cereal box spiral took about 45 minutes to set up. Once it was all aligned, Ms. Hayes had the honor of knocking over the first box, following an enthusiastic countdown from the students. Their thundering applause and cheering could be heard throughout the entire 70 seconds 1 it took for all 487 boxes to topple.

Oysterponds’ Principal, Jennifer Wissemann, thanked Ms. Stelzer and the rest of her staff for teaching the students that these types of charitable programs aren’t just important during the holidays, but should be continued year-round.

“The staff is amazing, everyone in the building contributes to a program like this and makes it happen and it’s a real school and community event,” Ms. Wissemann said.

The cereal boxes were later packed into large black bags and loaded into the “CAST on Wheels” van by faculty and staff. There were so many bags that Ms. Hayes wasn’t sure they were all going to fit.

Ms. Stelzer hopes to make participating in the challenge an annual event.

“It only takes one person to make a difference, it only takes one box of cereal to make a difference,” she said. “If you have an idea, run with it.”