PELHAM — Each year around Thanksgiving, St. Patrick School teacher Lynne Stader challenges seventh-grade homeroom students to adopt a worthy charity for the holidays, focusing energies on what they can accomplish for others. Students research nonprofit groups of interest to them, give classroom presentations, add convincing “closing arguments” and then the class votes.
This year, Kylee Jedraszek’s passionate presentation on the Alzheimer’s Association honored her late grandfather.
Classmate Michela Ferris gave the project a name, “Remember Those Who Forget,” and soon the class was putting their leadership skills to work. They created fliers, wrote public address announcements, decorated and delivered classroom donation boxes, and challenged other classes with a pizza party for the class to raise the most donations in their collection box.
Students advocated for a School Spirit Day where all students in the school would be allowed to “dress down,” out of uniform for the day, for a $1 donation to their fundraiser. Principal Hank Golec gave his support.
Student Jessica Newey offered another idea, selling chocolate-dipped candy canes. Students brought in boxes and boxes of candy canes during December and held “dipping” events at the Jedraszek’s home.
According to Lyn Jedraszek, Kylee’s mom, “The kids really enjoyed coming together on this, even after dipping many a cane and tying hundreds of bows.”
The class sold the candy canes after the school Christmas Paraliturgy (music program) and during lunch periods.
During December the class watched their project develop in surprising ways. Parents ordered the chocolate candy canes in bulk, and orders had to be filled. One student ordered Alzheimer’s Association donation cans online, put them at area locations such as the town library, and collected money at a hockey game.
“One day a parent came in to give our class a check for $100, telling the students she was honoring a member of her own family,” Stader said. “We heard many stories of how this illness has touched families.”
The students raised $1,555. With a current matching challenge through the Alzheimer’s Association, the students are excited to know their hard work will be worth more than $3,000 toward Alzheimer’s research.
Plans are in place for a representative of the Alzheimer’s Association regional office in Bedford to visit the school in January.