Students pile up pennies

Christmas might have passed, but it’s still the season of giving.

And students at Radio Park Elementary School made December the month to give back.

From Dec. 7 to Dec. 18, kindergartners to fifth-graders competed in Penny Wars — a friendly school competition to raise money for the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.

Thon is a student initiative that raises money for the Four Diamonds Fund, which financially helps families affected by childhood cancer.

Each class had a jug outside of its classroom door.

Students were encouraged to put pennies in their jug to gain points. But the “war” part of the competition came because students were also encouraged to bring in silver-colored money and cash to place in other classroom jugs that would offset class points, Principal Zac Wynkoop said.

The school raised $1,735.85.

And four winners were announced that included the classes that earned the most points, and raised the most money in kindergarten to second grade, and third to fifth grades.

They were Marianne Garlicki’s kindergarten class that raised the most points for a class in kindergarten to second grade, and Amy Bloom’s second-grade class that raised the most money in a kindergarten to second-grade class. For third- to fifth-grade classes, Julie Jobe’s fourth-grade class had the most points, while Corey Zupon’s third-grade class raised the most money.

“The kids loved it, and they were so motivated,” Wynkoop said.

It was an idea sparked by student teacher Lisa Imperato, a Penn State education student.

Imperato made a presentation to her second-grade mentor teacher, Mary Robert. The presentation was used by teachers to help educate students about the cause.

“She came to me and said ‘Hey, I think this is something we should do,’ ” Wynkoop said.

Radio Park and other schools in the State College Area School District partner with Penn State in a program called Professional Development School that provides schools with student teachers who get experience teaching in a real-world situation.

Radio Park has six student teachers this year who work with the school from the first to the last day of class.

“It’s amazing that they, Lisa, can be so dedicated to helping teach in a rigorous program, but still go out of her way to initiate Penny Wars,” Wynkoop said.

Wynkoop said this was the first year with the Thon campaign, but he hopes to bring it back next year.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo