Students at Glen Cairn Public School are creating change.
A group of Grade 7 students gave up their snow day to count pennies on Friday, Feb. 8, for Free the Children’s We Create Change campaign. The school hosted a penny drive from Feb. 4 to 8.
Sara Mizannojehdehi, a Grade 7 student in Shelly MacWhirter’s class, spearheaded the entire project, which collected more than 25,700 of the copper pieces as of lunchtime on Friday.
“It’s sort of unbelievable,” said Sara, 13. “There’s so much. It’s remarkable what people can do in one week.”
She and a number of her classmates came into school on the snow day “because it’s really important,” said Sara.
To get the entire school involved, Sara offered a Spirit Week to the younger grades and a Valentine’s Day dance for Grade 7 and 8 students as an incentive.
“That’s how we motivated (them),” she said.
The goal was 2,500 pennies per class, an amount that gives one person clean water for the rest of his or her life, according to Free the Children. With 12 classes in the school, that’s enough to provide fresh water for six people, said Sara.
“Our class reached about 2,700 pennies,” she said, adding that with pennies being phased out, “Our motto was pennies are going extinct for a good cause.”
Sara developed her idea for the fundraiser during homework club. Educational assistant Tara Boal asked Sara to think of a charity she could help.
Sara researched charities, devised her plan to get the school involved and the project took off.
“They took it and ran with it,” said Boal. “She’s an amazing person. She took responsibility for it.
“She got a lot of people involved and excited about it.”
Free the Children set a goal to provide 100,000 people with clean water for life through the We Create Change penny drive campaign, which was developed to coincide with the penny going out of circulation. According to Free the Children, $500 is enough to provide 20 people with clean water for life.
Glen Cairn principal Shannon Smith said she’s impressed with her students and the work they put into the penny drive. The students created posters and read announcements over the school’s intercom.
“I’m just so proud of them,” she said. “When a kid comes forward with something she’s put that much thought into – I say run with it.”
Counting each individual penny was taking too much time, so the students used critical thinking to develop a faster way. They grabbed some scales out of the science room, weighed 100 pennies, then weighed bags of pennies and used math to determine how many pennies were in each bag.
“That’s just golden what they’re doing right now,” said Smith.
Sara said she’s pleased with the end result of the project.
“You need to be really organized,” she said. “Sometimes you get really lucky with opportunities.”