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Howbert Walk-A-Thon exceeds PTA's fundraising goal

In the two photos above, taken from different vantage points, students and adult supporters circuit the Howbert Elementary upper playground (about a fifth of a mile in distance) during the PTA's Walk-A-Thon fundraiser for the school Oct. 1 from 9 to 9:45 a.m. The lower photo was shot from 31st Street. Each grade level had its own T-shirt color: kindergarten, purple; first grade, blue; second grade, green; third grade, red; fourth grade, yellow; and fifth grade, orange.
Westside Pioneer photos
       A new type of PTA fundraiser for Howbert Elementary was in plain view for the Westside the morning of Oct. 1.
       For 45 minutes, the entire student body (about 280 students in grades K-5) walked - even jogged at times - laps around the upper playground, accompanied by dozens of staff, parents, community members and even soldiers from a Fort Carson unit that's adopted Howbert this year. A fire truck and some Coronado High cheerleaders were also on hand, providing encouragement as the walkers passed by. Donated water bottles and snacks were available for fortification.
       The goal going in had been $10,000. The total collected came to about $14,000.
       “I think the kids were really excited,” said Laura Tefertiller, who led the Walk-A-Thon organizing with PTA co-chair Deb Pinyerd. “It was a fun community and school event.”
Soldiers from Fort Carson's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team join students, staff, family members and other school supporters in the Walk-A-Thon Oct. 1.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Beforehand, the students had secured pledges of varying amounts, contingent on their walking the entire time. Meanwhile, the PTA was lining up support from the community, including donations of prizes from local businesses earmarked for the top 35 pledge-obtainers. For motivation, the prizes were on display in the school for several days beforehand.
       Another bit of competitive fun took place among the grade levels. Students from each grade wore different color t-shirts. The classroom that raised the most money was Diane Gajewski's first-graders, and their reward is getting to concoct a friendly “prank” on Principal Deb Hawes.
       The principal said she's game for it. On previous school events intended to boost school spirit she's let herself be hit with water balloons and even taped to a wall - “not my best look,” Hawes quipped. For her part, under an event-related promise that takes effect because the Walk-A-Thon exceeded the $10,000 goal, she gets to shave the head of school PE teacher Jason Miner at a school assembly. “Maybe I'll make it a mohawk,” she joked.
       On a serious note, Hawes praised the PTA for an “amazing” project that went off smoothly. “They came to me about it last spring,” she said. “They got the sponsors and donations. They did all the work.”
       The money raised Oct. 1 “will go right back to the school,” Tefertiller explained. Specific recipients will be the art and music program, the fifth grade's end-of-the-year dance and two digital “smart boards” for classroom use.
       It's estimated that five laps around the playground equals a mile. Tefertiller said that the most any student did Oct. 1 was 30 laps, with the average being about 12. “Even the little kindergarteners did eight to nine laps,” she said.
       The concept for the fundraiser came locally from Trailblazer Elementary, but it's her impression that “a lot of schools are going this route” in seeking community support to stretch their school-district allocations. For example, a more traditional type of fundraiser is the bake sale. “Rather than have kids sell junk food and not make very much money, they were all outside, being healthy and making money for their school,” Tefertiller summarized.
       In a related aspect, this was the first event in which soldiers from Fort Carson's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team have participated since offering to adopt Howbert this school year, Hawes said. “Some of them will be pretty frequent volunteers,” she predicted. She estimated that “20 to 30” soldiers joined the Walk-A-Thon, wearing their camouflage uniforms and heavy rucksacks for the occasion.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 10/1/14; Schools: Howbert Elementary)

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