The first baseball game is still a couple of weeks away, but I am sitting up here in the Nickel Bleachers, reminiscing about a few things that happened this past winter that might have gone unnoticed by readers of The Independent.
First of all, one of my eighth grade football players, Aaron Norris, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Recent brain surgery removed most of the tumor, and current radiation treatments and chemotherapy will hopefully remove the rest of it.
Seeing that Aaron and his family were in need of financial aid, our high school students held a fund raiser over the past couple of weeks, hoping to lend a little assistance. Their goal was to collect $1000 in change from the pockets of their classmates.
With the approval of the student council, the event took the form of a unique class competition. A coin collection box was given to the seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen. Each box was placed in a classroom. Every day, students put their spare change into the boxes for their respective classes.
In addition, a little twist was made in the rules. Although the contest was set up for coins, any paper money placed in a box would be subtracted from the total of the coins. So, for example, if a box contained $25 in coins and $10 in currency, the total for that box would be counted as only $15. But, of course, all of the money would be counted in the overall fundraiser.
By Thursday of the second week, the high schoolers had nearly reached their goal of $1000. A plea went out after that afternoon’s count for everyone to bring some extra change on Friday. They did. Friday’s final count brought the total up to $1520.07. That’s right. Our Jenkins High School students, with the support of parents and staff, collected over $1500 for Aaron and his family.
In the end, after the last penny was counted, and according to the rules, the seniors had won the contest. However, it was the sophomores who generated the most money
The extraordinary thing about this fundraiser is that, for the most part, only the freshmen and the sophomores actually know Aaron. He was a seventh grader last year when the freshmen were in the middle school. He was only a sixth grader when the sophomores were in the middle school. Aaron was still in Gess Elementary when the juniors and seniors were in the middle school.
Yet, everyone rallied to his cause and the fundraiser exceeded its goal by another 50 percent. To me, that’s outstanding!
Meanwhile, at the middle school, the seventh and eighth graders also had a couple of fundraisers for Aaron which brought in nearly $500. With only 110 students at the middle school, that is a contribution of nearly five bucks per kid!
So, together, our teenagers raised over $2000 for Aaron Norris.
These two recent fund raising events brings to mind a similar one that occurred earlier in the winter sports season that few of you readers of The Independent know about. So, I’m going to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak.
Mike Schut has been announcing Chewelah Cougar home football, basketball, and volleyball games for the past several years. As many of you know, he is also an avid Seattle Seahawk football fan.
Earlier this year, one of our Lady Cougars decided that the football, basketball, and volleyball players should acquire tickets for a home football game and give them to Mr. Schut to show their gratitude.
“I thought we should all show our appreciation for all the time he volunteers to announce our home games and for all the other things he does for kids,” she said. “Going to a Seahawks game was one of his lifetime dreams, and I just thought it was a good idea to fulfill it. I did not do this to toot my own horn. “
So, I will simply refer to her as Miss Anonymous.
“Actually, the volleyball team had the original idea. We had talked about doing this way last fall, but it was around Christmas when I finally convinced everyone that we should do it,” explained Anonymous.
First, the group decided to email the Seahawks head office, asking for VIP tickets, but none were available.
“They said that they would instead send some Seahawk fan gear,” said Anonymous, “but that is not what we wanted.”
Next, the group went to plan B. They would buy the tickets. They rounded up several Cougar athletes and a few FFA members who each committed to donate $10 to buy the tickets.
When the tickets arrived just before Christmas, nine Cougars knocked on Schut’s door.
“I thought they were Christmas carolers,” said Schut.
“We handed him a card with the tickets inside, but he didn’t open it,” continued Anonymous. “When we finally talked him into opening the card and he pulled out the tickets, we thought he was going to have a heart attack. In fact, one of the girls had 911 on speed dial and was ready to call if he keeled over.”
The story does not end here. Just two hours after delivering the tickets, Anonymous received an email from the Seahawks home office, saying that since they had already purchased the tickets, they would add a pair of sideline passes.
So, the group reassembled and returned to the Schut home.
“Why are you here again?” Schut wondered.
When they handed him the sideline passes, they were sure he was going to have a heart attack.
To finally bring this story to an end, let me say that Mr. Schut and a friend attended the Seahawk game, were down on the field an hour and a half prior to the start of the game, got to talk several of the players and to Coach Pete Carroll, and brought home photos to prove it.
So, whenever someone hints that we have less than considerate and generous teenagers here in our Chewelah schools, please remember these two stories. Yes, admittedly, we do have a few bad apples, but the rest of the kids don’t let them spoil the whole barrel.
By Geno Ludwig, The Independent Staff