‘Do you wanna build a snowman?’ Battle Hill sure did

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By Allison Brehm, Correspondent
UNION, NJ — Thanks to a recent Student Council fundraiser, the ASPCA will be the recipient of $2,263 raised by Battle Hill Elementary School in Union. The fundraiser began Jan. 9 and concluded March 17. Each classroom began with a paper snowman that included two eyes, a mouth and a scarf; donations were secured when students pooled their funds and exchanged them for points that corresponded to “snow dollars,” which were used to make purchases to accessorize their class snowman. For example the mustache cost students 5 snow dollars and the special edition “dabbing” arms cost 15 snow dollars.

In addition to purchasing items, the students were encouraged to flaunt their best behavior on a daily basis in order to earn the accessories given away by special area teachers. This way students recognized that it wasn’t just about monetary donations, but outstanding behavior as well. For example, an art pallette was given out by the art teachers and a stethoscope was given out by the nurse. Each special area accessory was assigned a value of 17 points.

Students and teachers alike were excited and determined for their classroom snowmen to have the most value at the end. The overall winning class from Battle Hill had the opportunity to select a nonprofit organization, from a list of four, to be the beneficiary of the donations. These charities included the Union Public Library, the ASPCA, UNICEF’s Hurricane Matthew Relief Fund and the Children’s Diabetes Foundation.

Student Council advisers Jessica Mongiovi and Alison Brehm were astonished by the success of the fundraiser. The initially small idea was inspired by a program in classroom economics, introduced to school district by Annie Moses. It quickly transformed, however, into the biggest fundraiser Battle Hill has ever held; the original goal of $500 was exceeded in the first two weeks of the fundraiser. The Student Council members and advisers, in partnership with art teacher Sarah Norman, worked collaboratively on a weekly basis to produce new items to sell and keep the interest alive.

“It was a great program to get the students involved in where the money would be donated,” Brehm said. Classroom teachers and PTA members assisted in keeping students motivated to earn funds to donate. Parents were encouraged to have their children earn a few dollars at home by doing chores around the house or completing their homework before a certain time. Some students even brought in their allowance! “It was a great way to introduce students to economics, budgeting and planning, as well as the importance of raising money for a worthy cause,” Mongiovi stated.

At the conclusion of the event, Donna Turner’s third grade class was the overall winner and chose to donate the $2,263 to the ASPCA. They received pretzels and ice pops, courtesy of the Student Council.

The grade level winners included the pre-school class of Mrs. Juarez, Ms. Rosa and Mrs. Duggan; Mrs. Musarra and Mrs. Erickson’s kindergarten classes; Ms. Melillo’s first grade class; Mrs. Marano’s second grade class, and Miss Brehm’s fourth grade class. Each grade level winner also received ice pops as a small token in thanks.

Alison Brehm is a fourth-grade teacher at Battle Hill Elementary School, as well as student council adviser and second vice president of the Battle Hill PTA.