Chippewa 7-8 School takes “steps” to fight budget cuts

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By Julianne Pitcher
Meridian Times staff writer

Okemos Chippewa 7-8 School’s annual fundraising run/walk makes for a fun and beneficial day for students and staff.

With the route starting at the school, participants completed a five-mile loop on Sept. 28, walking or running up Kinawa Drive to Okemos Road to Hamilton Road to Dobie Road and back to Kinawa Drive. While showing their Chippewa pride and raising money for school supplies, all 600 seventh and eighth grade students and school staff participated in this event, sponsored by the Chippewa Parent Group.

“This walk/run has been going on for about 20 years now, and each year we set a new fundraising goal. This year our goal was $15,000, and we are very proud to say that we met this goal through all of our students’ pledges,” said Principal Barb Hoevel.

Rosemary Possanza, this year’s coordinator, said, “Each student raises as much money as he or she can. Not only do they know that all the money goes back to them in the end, but classroom parties are given to the top three classes that raise the most pledges from family and friends.”

Students have the option of buying a T-shirt for the event, and this money is used to meet the goal too, said Jodi Hancock, president of the Chippewa Parent Group.

The money fills wish lists for teachers for supplies including maps, math manipulatives, clay and other art supplies. The money also helps support field trips, seventh grade camp, and the school’s annual Christmas party, said Possanza.

Not only does this event make up for recent budget cuts, but it is a fundraiser that the students look forward to every fall, said Hancock.

Eighth-grader Casey Meyer said, “I like being able to hang out with my friends during the school day.”

Eighth-grader Dalis Williams said, “It’s fun because my friends and I usually race each other, which makes the time go by even faster. The walk/run is just something different to do from our typical afternoons inside the classrooms.”

The fundraiser is a community effort with about 100 volunteers. Sixty parents keep the route safe by acting as station monitors, and Playmakers contributes music, the start and finish lines, and an official timer. The Kohl’s Cares program, Associates in Action, donates $500 in addition to sending five volunteers to work three hours and making the mile marker signs.

Hoevel said, “All seven periods for the day are run prior to the walk/run, so no academic time is missed. The students are then released from class at 12:25 p.m. so that they can warm up and stretch before the event starts at 12:45 p.m.”

The walk/run is normally done by 2:40 p.m., and as participants return, they are given water and popsicles donated by parents. They are also allowed to play outside until all of the students are back, said Possanza.

Eighth-grader Shauntel Carroll-Lopez said, “When I cross the finish line I feel proud of myself because I finished the five miles and because I did something to help my school.”

Possanza said, “It’s great to see everyone coming together for one cause that is so beneficial to the student body.”

As the school year continues, the Chippewa Parent Group plans many more fundraising events.

Hancock said, “Budget cuts won’t stop the school from doing what it wants and needs to do. Instead, it gets us to think of creative ways to come together to raise money while having fun.”

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