"I like this because not only is it a good fundraiser, but we are trying to build community with a new leadership program. To see them raise so much money, it shows it is coming together."
-- David Cooke, JMS principal
“I like this because not only is it a good fundraiser, but we are trying to build community with a new leadership program. To see them raise so much money, it shows it is coming together.”
— David Cooke, JMS principal
At first, the animated voices, energized students and atmosphere of excitement in the Jemtegaard Middle School gym could easily be mistaken for the usual pre-spring break anticipation.
However, this particular event last Wednesday had a much higher purpose than students having a good time. After three weeks of intense fundraising, JMS leadership students collected more than $3,000 for the Pennies for Patients campaign, a benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In the prior eight years of the event, students raised half that total amount.
That amount designated them as the second-highest earning school in all of Clark County, and sixth in the region, which includes Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
“We knew something special was happening by day three, when we collected over $400,” said Scott Rainey, leadership class advisor. “That put our total at over $600 for the first few days, beating our best year by about $70.”
Leadership students ramped up their efforts, along with Rainey and Principal David Cooke.
They did activities such as “Stuck for a Buck,” where students who contributed $1 had the opportunity to help duct tape (volunteer) teachers to the wall, a $20 raffle to be Principal for a Day while Cooke attends that student’s classes, and “It’s a Small World,” where the students played the popular Disney Land ride’s theme song during passing periods. To stop the music, $200 had to be raised.
The leadership class is new this year, and was created by Cooke as a way to help foster a more welcoming and inclusive environment at the school.
“In order for the students to have ‘buy-in,’ it’s essential that the changes come from them,” Rainey said.
Rainey upped the ante for fundraising when he and five boys in the leadership class volunteered to get their heads shaved into Mohawks if the school raised $3,000.
“I kind of felt like one would when strapped into a roller coaster and coming to the crest of the hill,” he said. ” ‘Well, there’s no turning back now!’ Actually, I’ve been very excited about the whole Mohawk thing since the thought first came to me several days into the campaign. A little bit of embarrassment for me is a miniscule price to pay to inspire my students to serve their community.”
At the assembly, Rainey, along with students Dalton Payne, William Wear, Kolton Andrews, Jonathan Bean and Dylan Van Horn, had their locks sheared in front of the entire school. Rainey’s wife, Katrina, did the honors along with Shannon Van Horn, Dylan’s mother, and Greg Payne, Dalton’s father.
Cooke sat amidst the noise of the assembly, calmly gazing at the animated students, who steadily became louder as more money was donated so that teachers Ron Schlauch and Anna Linde could be duct taped to the wall.
“I like this because not only is it a good fundraiser, but we are trying to build community with a new leadership program,” he said. “To see them raise so much money, it shows it is coming together. This is a good example of what happens with positive changes.”
Rainey referred to it as, “evidence of a tectonic shift in the school culture.”
“Our future plans are to shoot for the moon,” he said.
At the beginning of the year, Rainey had the leadership students write a paper, in which they envisioned Jemtegaard receiving an accolade from the governor for being the best middle school in Washington state.
“That has become my mantra this year, to everyone I speak to. I tell them that I work at the best middle school in the state,” he said. “Our aim is to make that happen.”
Seventh-grader Emma Spaeth decided to participate in the leadership class after attending her first pep assembly.
“I wanted to be the person up there talking,” she said.
Spaeth, who helped organize the fundraising effort for the Pennies for Patients campaign, noted the whole experience was “very cool.”
“Having this class really helped a lot,” she said. “It was pretty neat because just yesterday we had $2,700 and we raised nearly $400 overnight.”
Kira Schoenborn, a seventh-grader, noted that everyone pitched in to make a difference.
“It feels like a real accomplishment,” she said. “I know we can do more even more in the future. I am really proud of us as a school.”
Eighth-grader and ASB President Jenna Beaver, said the efforts were “heartwarming.”
“Everyone was pretty much willing to do whatever we needed to help make our school be the best at fundraising,” she said. “And look what we accomplished.”