Posted Date: 11/30/2018
Among the decimals and fractions, punctuation, and knowledge of the branches of government taught at Royster Middle School is another kind of learning that carries weight alongside the academics. Community service, along with civic responsibility, attitude and gratitude are important lessons in the transition from elementary to high school.
For a dozen years, or more, community service and fundraising for Emprise Bank’s Adopt-A-Child program has taken center stage from mid-October to December when students are not in classes.
“Royster normally adopts about 40 to 50 kids in our community each year,” said former principal Lori Kiblinger who is now director of accreditation in the district office. “Last year, I think they raised about $6,000 with all of their activities.”
In recent weeks, fundraising has been in full swing, with the selling of gratitude grams to be given to others, face-painting, a Halloween dance, dodge ball tournament, pre-Thanksgiving dance and after-school bash for sixth graders.
“The students come up with ideas of what (event) could raise between $80 to $100 for each child,” said counselor Jennifer Inbody. They work concession stands for ballgames, hold bake sales, sell candy grams and even pay $1 to be allowed to wear a hat during the school day.
It’s not difficult getting students to buy in to this program, said teacher Dallas Masoner, who is heading up this year’s effort.
“The kids get the satisfaction of helping others. They know there is a need and it is amazing how much they want to help raise money for the cause,” Masoner said. The “fundraising is totally up to the kids from coming up with the idea as to how to raise money, to setting up and running the events.”
Seventh grader Marlee Miller said her group held a raffle and sold chances to those who wanted to guess how many candies were in a jar.
“We raised quite a bit of money and all of it is going to Adopt-A-Child. We are hoping to get two or three kids,” Miller said.
The students can specify an age range and whether they want to sponsor a boy or girl.
“We decided we wanted to do little kids, like toddlers,” said Brinly Bancroft, an eighth grader who’s familiar with the process. “The kids already have a Christmas list. Tonight we’re actually going Christmas shopping for them. So we’ll go through the store, and spend the money on things they actually wanted.”
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Masoner’s group sponsored a Wheel of Fortune in the commons area after lunch. For $1, the students spun the wheel and won a candy bar or homemade treat, a plastic candy cane filled with candy, or three snack bar passes. At first the students were hesitant, but after the first two customers, a line formed and everyone wanted a turn.
“The kids learn lots of lessons along the way, from … the steps involved in organizing it, to budgeting their money for gifts, and remembering to include sales tax,” Kiblinger said. “Of course, the service learning opportunity is something we are always looking to provide for our students at all levels. We want them to understand the importance of giving back to their community.”
Royster Principal Don Epps said the program complements this year’s theme of “chasing greatness.”
“They’re taking on something bigger than themselves and that’s chasing greatness,” Epps said. “They’re being part of acts that are for the greater good.”
The students see how their efforts are helping others.
“It helps local kids and local families and that’s what it’s all about,” Epps said.
Miller likes taking the gifts to Emprise Bank.
“It was really fun and it felt good to be part of the activity,” she said.
“It makes it all worth it when we get to see and announce how many kids we have adopted,” Masoner said. “Also, when we deliver the gifts to the bank it is an awesome sight - buses loaded with kids and presents.”
Bancroft said she likes being able to give something to other kids, but “it’s also like a reminder to me that you should be thankful” because there are out there who have to ask others in order to get presents.
“Overall, it is a great experience for our kids and a chance for them to give to someone else,” Inbody said.
“I really like the Adopt-A-Child program because I think it’s good that we can give presents to kids who don’t get any,” said sixth grader Kayleigh Watts. “It’s a good program for Christmas.”