LAND O'LAKES — The sign may not look like much, but it's an important marker in the friendly rivalry between Pine View Middle and Elementary schools.
The green "Pride of the Parkway" sign goes to the winner of the annual kickball game between the staffs of the two schools. After losing 4-2 in Thursday's showdown, Pine View Middle principal Jennifer Matthews-Crosby had to dig up the sign on her campus and hand it over to Pine View Elementary.
"It's all about the sign," event organizer and middle school drama teacher Beth Neri said. "But as a fundraiser this has worked out really well."
Bragging rights aside, the kickball game raises money for charity and gives students a chance to see their teachers let loose. This year's game raised $1,694.20 for the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders, an organization that helps people with extreme food allergies. Pine View Elementary student Remington Walls has the disease.
"Everything we do in life revolves around food, and the hardest thing to do is to explain it to people," said Remington's mother, Stephanie Walls, who teaches language arts at Pine View Middle. "A lot of people think it's just acid reflux. I know we're making a lot more people aware of the disease with this event and it really means so much to have everyone come together and help me continue to raise money for an organization that can help my son."
Neri partnered last year with the elementary school's physical education teacher, Karen Turman, to come up with the kickball event. The two decided to target a different charity every year, but more specifically a charity that could affect the life of a student in one of their schools.
Last year, a student at the middle school whose mother worked at the elementary school was the inspiration, with the funds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. That game raise about $1,000 for the charity.
Heading into Thursday's game, Walls had already raised more than that through sponsorships.
"It was amazing, I just picked up the phone and started making phone calls and nobody told me no," Walls said.
To fuel the rivalry and the stakes of the game even further, there is a bet in which the losing principal has to walk across the street for lunch duty in the opposing school's cafeteria.
"She's not happy because we're giving her a kindergarten shift," Turman said of Matthews-Crosby. "For a middle school principal to be spending their day opening milk cartons and working the lunch line is pretty funny. It's just one more way to make the game interesting."
One aspect of a kickball game that appealed to the organizers was that it presented a lighter side of the teachers, giving the children a chance to see them in a different light, as more than an instructor.
"We're in a different environment than during the day," Turman said. "It's a lot of fun for the kids and the parents to see the teachers playing kickball and having a good time, because they're used to us being serious. Here everyone can just let loose and laugh. It's a unique event. I never see other schools doing this."
Contact David Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org.