There was a party atmosphere to the serious business of raising quarters for Haiti at a recent schoolwide fundraiser.
Brooksville Elementary, as the School of Global Studies, focuses on cultures, languages and geography and that is reflected in its annual charity fundraiser.
This year the recipient of the fundraising effort was Dr. Paul Farmer's Partners in Health. The local affiliate, Partners for Paul, was at the school to educate students, staff and visitors. The funds will go to Haiti to support Farmer's work there.
This year the event was spread over two days to maximize the educational aspect. Each grade was required to research and produce a display about a continent. Kindergarteners did Australia, first-graders had Africa, second-graders covered South America, third-graders studied Europe, fourth-graders learned about Asia and fifth- grader did their work about North America.
On the first day of the two-day festival, students took turns going with their classes to the cafeteria to see each other's exhibits. The displays stayed in place through the next day when parents and others visited campus.
New this year, too, was a bazaar on the cafeteria's stage. The students had produced crafts to sell at the bazaar for a quarter each. Fifth-graders made red, white and blue bracelets. Fourth-graders made Chinese dragons, hanging hearts and puzzles.
Third-graders used foam forms to make mosaic hangings. Second-graders made tissue flowers. First-graders made African masks. Kindergarteners made Great Barrier Reef foam form necklaces.
The bazaar was such a big hit that coordinators, Spanish teacher Kimetta Ortiz and global teacher Kathy Gates, said they had to hold back some items to be sure all the classes had a chance to buy things.
On the second day, the event spread outdoors to booths set up around the courtyard. The options for collecting quarters were as varied as the continents they represented. There were games, a ring toss over soda bottles and ducks in a pond. There were crafts, seed planting, face-painting and physical education activities. There was food: popcorn, pickles and Spanish rice with ham croquettes. Little Havana provided the Cuban food at a reduced rate.
DiAna's Dance Express volunteered its services to teach students basic rhythms and dance styles. High school students from the studio came by to demonstrate some of the dances and invite students to dance with them.
Exceptional student education teacher Darla Croft, 29, is new to Brooksville Elementary and commented about her first global fundraiser. "I think it's a wonderful way to expose students to different cultures," she said. Croft was assisting at the temporary tattoo table.
First-grader Rachel Pederson, 7, and her mother, Charlene Pederson, 39, attended the event together. Rachel said she liked the ring toss, but also the duck pond. Her mother also enjoyed the event.
"I like it. It's something fun for the kids to do with their families, if they can make it. It brings a lot of kids together," Pederson said.
Kandice Carlton, 10, a fourth-grader in Ortiz's class, benefited from the Rotary International group studies exchange that sent Ortiz, with educators from other countries, to Turkey. Ortiz brought back a lot of information to share with her students. Kandice said she learned "It's very rude to say 'no' if they offer you food."
She got to try some chai tea. "But," Kandice said, "it had too much cinnamon and no taste and it was hot and burny. It burned my tongue on the first taste." She was fine with the Turkish pudding, though. It had nuts and caramel. "It was really good," Kandice said. "It was like a bursting flavor."
The school has had this global event for five years, said principal Mary LeDoux. "It's an opportunity for our students to show other grade levels what they learned throughout the year."
The fundraiser part is also a global lesson. "It allows the kids to see outside themselves," she said, "and donate and see it make a difference."