Southern Regional Middle School Penny Wars Delivers, Scholarship Program Reaches New Peak
Years ago, Southern Regional Middle School came up with a cool way to raise money for the David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation. It’s called Penny Wars and the concept is quite intriguing and fun.
The Penny Wars Challenge is a week-long competition between all of the school’s academic teams. Students are asked to fill their academic team glasses, located in the cafeteria, with pennies, other types of coins, and even dollar bills during their lunch break – pennies count for one point and dollar bills count for 100 points. As part of the twist of the competition, if an opposing team places any type of silver coin in the other team’s jars, that amount will be deducted from that team’s penny total.
The team with the most points for Penny Wars – counted by David’s Dream and Believe Generation Dream Club advisors Beth Sicoli and Marissa Reynolds – will receive points towards their respective academic team’s total for the annual SRMS competition day, which sees all teams throughout the year Participate in various competitions every year.
“It may just be a bunch of pennies and coins in a jar, but when they all come together for a common cause, it becomes so much more,” said Steve Crisalli of DDBCF, Generation Dream’s school contact. “The money raised will help patients in financial distress, pay some bills and bring relief and hope at a very difficult and stressful time.”
That year, Team Lightning earned the most points for Penny Wars, and on May 26, students Kyle Wlazlowski and Peter Wolff presented Crisalli with a check for $1,886.
“The teacher moderators never tell me the amount raised,” Crisalli said. “I love being surprised on the day of the event and it inspires me to see the commitment of today’s youth to give back to the community. We have the full support of the Southern Regional Board of Education, the Principal (Elisabeth) Brahn and the entire school.”
It’s a busy time of year at Southern Regional High School, and one of the many exciting events on the calendar is the annual Scholarship Night awards ceremony, where hundreds of seniors receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.
In recent years, community support has pushed the total amount of grants awarded well past $800,000 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year set a new record.
“More than any other of our traditions, the scholarship program exemplifies the excellent relationship between the community we serve and the Southern Regional School District,” Superintendent Craig Henry said as he opened the May 2 ceremony with a brief introduction in front of the flag Salute, led by outgoing senior Julie Simms, and the national anthem. “It also shows how much trust the donor groups have in our prospective alumni.
“Like everything in the South, the scholarship program is renowned and unrivaled. I don’t know of any other school that has our type of program. Tonight, 306 donor groups will present 296 students 1,097 individual appointments for a grand total of — hold your hat, because you’ve never heard that number before, and neither have I — $864,988. That’s an increase from our busiest year by $233,000 more than we’ve been able to allocate in the past.”
From The Super Enormous (yet still decently amazing, spectacular and fantastic) Grant for the Blooming Mind” to “The Best is Saved for the Last Grant” and from the “Forever a Ram” Grants to the “Curtain Call Grant “. Donor group sets criteria to determine how much money each grant is worth. Approximately 80% of appointments are selected by the donor groups, with the remaining 20% selected by a committee composed of administrators, student advisors, class advisors, and faculty members.
In addition, Lt. Col. Jesse Stubbs of the United States Air Force Simms an appointment to the Air Force Academy — the equivalent of “a full four-year scholarship to a top-ranking university,” providing just 897 incoming cadets from a field of more than 8,500 applicants.
— David Biggie