During the two-week period that ended Friday, CES raised $15,182 in its second March of Dimes fundraising campaign, making the school the highest-earning elementary school in the state for the past two years.
Led by the 29-member National Elementary Honor Society, the school raised the money by asking family and friends to contribute, participating in pajama day, buying a jeans pass, collecting money in the car drop-off and pickup line and in buckets at local businesses and conducting a silent auction and raffle.
“I was floored to see that they raised so much but also not surprised,” Bartow County March of Dimes Chairwoman Laura Walton said. “With the leadership of A.J. Wilson and Natalie Carr, I’m not surprised that the fundraiser was so successful.”
Carr and Wilson, who serve as NEHS co-advisers, also were floored.
“We are in awe of our students’ love and dedication for helping others at such a young age,” Carr, the EIP reading and math teacher, said. “On March 9, CES students brought in over $700 for PJ Day. They used their talents and encouraged their family, friends and peers to participate.”
She added the teachers raised more than $850 from their silent auction and raffle and more than $800 from the jean passes.
Wilson, a fourth-grade teacher, said she and Carr went into the campaign “with the attitude that little people can do big things.”
“As always, these kids exceeded our expectations,” she said. “I mean, just say $15,000 out loud. To wrap your mind around those words is impossible. What we want the community to walk away with is this: If these kids can do this, if children at the age of 8, 9, 10 or 11 years old can raise over $15,000, what can you do? What, as adults, can we do if we really put our mind to it?”
The campaign culminated Friday with a hero walk through the student-lined halls and a balloon release on the playground by the Top 10 money-raisers at the school: Ayden Mackey, Kristin Byrd, Chole Warren, Claire Tucker, Eva Kate, Ethan Abernathy, Will Murphy, Lupita Camacho, Joseph Womack and Allee Goodson.
“Everything went according to plan,” Carr said. “We had a few surprise guests come by and join us for the hero walk. Stormy, CES mascot, came for a visit.”
“With Friday being St. Patrick’s Day, we caught a leprechaun,” Wilson said. “He joined us for the hero walk and balloon release.”
“We believe he’s known for taking a picture or two at Tonsmeire Studios,” Carr said, adding it was Louis Tonsmeire.
For raising a combined $2,360.32, the Top 5 students — Ayden, Kristin, Chole, Claire and Eva — will be treated to a special midday meal this week, Wilson said.
“We had several ties for the Top 3 so Melissa Bates, principal, decided to take five students to lunch at Chili’s this Friday, March 24,” she said.
Because her class raised the most money of any class — $905 — fourth-grade teacher Jenny Moore will join Bates and the students for lunch.
The top fundraising class in each grade that won an ice cream party and extra recess with former computer teacher Tiera Smith and her daughter, Lillian, Bartow County’s March for Babies ambassador, were Lori Farmer’s third-grade class, Moore’s fourth-grade class and Brandi Gainor and Tiffani Townsend’s fifth-grade classes, who tied.
Wilson said Smith is “checking her schedule for the best time to have the ice cream parties.”
Finally, Shay Musuku from Abby Hibbard’s fourth-grade class won the Green Machine scooter that was raffled off, Carr said.
Members of the Georgia Highlands College baseball team helped count money and deliver prizes and “even snuck in a few minutes and joined CES students at recess,” Carr said.
Walton said CES’s campaign “really was a community effort,” and she was “really impressed with the whole day Friday.”
Wilson credited the school’s administration with making the project a success.
“Not every administrator realizes that teaching kids about philanthropy is as much a part of our job as reading, writing and arithmetic,” she said. “Melissa Bates has provided us with the vision to teach the whole child, to teach children to ‘believe.’ This success is not because of anything Natalie or I did. This success is because of the Canes Nation. From the littlest Cane to the biggest Cane, everyone was a Hurricane hero this week.”
“There is no monetary equivalent for teaching our youth the value of service,” Carr added.
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