There's a war going on in our elementary schools, but it's only for a limited time. Students are gathering their weapon of choice, all the small change they can find, to join in the fight against cancer
For two weeks, the American Cancer Society's Penny Wars allow students an opportunity to support the upcoming Relay For Life "Ropin' In A Cure." Scheduled at the YMCA, this year's 14-hour event begins at 4 p.m. on April 29 and ends at 6 a.m. on April 30.
By collecting pennies and other small change, classes can win prizes determined by each individual school. Some of the valuable prizes sought after by the students at many schools include extra recess time or a treat of a special food item during class.
At Forest Park Elementary the prize has become part of the school's curriculum and the excitement is growing daily.
"Oh my gosh-- they're just ecstatic. The winning class gets to 'do' something to Principal Connie Cook," Forest Park fourth-grade teacher and student council sponsor Debbie Zimmerman said about student participation in the event. "We've turned this into a writing prompt to come up with ideas about what they will be able 'to do' to Mrs. Cook. Every idea is great and everyone is hoping their idea is picked."
While students perform math problems to count donations and write their ideas in class, Student Council members will read the entries to pick a winner. The fun idea is credited with the student's collecting enough small change to win the first week of the Penny Wars.
"There's been lots of ideas for her 'to do', like kiss a pig or frog. They're really excited about writing their ideas," she said. "This adds a fun element to writing because they're going to see (what they write) happen."
Ultimately, after checking with Mrs. Cook, the students will gather in the school's gymnasium to watch their principal do the idea chosen, making everyone a winner.
"Students, especially our younger ones, interact with Mrs. Cook daily. They want to do something when it's on a personal level," Zimmerman said. "Students may not understand the Relay or the issues around cancer at a personal level, but they know Mrs. Cook. They're happy and excited to give money to something for someone they know, than for someone they don't."
Tentative plans for Principal Cook's 'to do' day will take place during the school's Field Day activities on May 16.