Elementary students race for education

J. F. Cooper Elementary School held its first a Race for Education, raising more than $11,000 for equipment and technology.
The event, organized by PTA President Jayne Bloom, was full of activities and events for students.

“I got the idea because Voorhees schools have done it in the past and have been really successful,” Bloom said.
Bloom was puzzled by the expense of taxes and how little the budget contributed to playground equipment and technology in the classroom.

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“We’re going to purchase a Peaceful Playground, a new concept to teach the kids a new way to lead their own games and how to deal with conflict,” Bloom said.

According to Bloom, Peaceful Playgrounds is an award-winning system used in more than 8,000 schools nationwide, offering a series of more than 100 age-appropriate, fun games and learning activities painted onto existing playground surfaces.

The strategy is far more effective than purchasing equipment. Staff and students will be taught consistent game rules and strategies to resolve disagreements that can arise during play, and given the skills to solve the typical skirmishes that occur during recess. The children will be learning essential life skills — including leadership, empathy and resilience.

Currently, the PTA has a $1,500 grant from the Jewish Community Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League to contribute to the cause.

“The bigger thing, which costs more money, is technology,” Bloom said. “We made a goal so that each grade has its own laptops.”

According to Bloom, the Cherry Hill Education Foundation also contributed $5,000 to the cause.

“PTA’s goal is to purchase enough laptops so that there will be a ratio of one for every two students at the school,” Bloom said.
Students were required to write letters to friends, family, neighbors and parents’ places of business to raise the money.
“It’s one aspect I really liked about the fundraiser. It got everyone involved. Teachers, students and parents all had a hand in this,” Bloom said.

Students were given incentives to write the letters, which included homework passes.

The student who writes the most letters will have the opportunity to dunk the principal.

“There are a lot of components. The kids were writing in the school and everyone wants kids to get more exercise. The kids raced and ran around the school,” Bloom said.

In addition, DJ Mom, mother of five Jennifer Sullivan, provided tunes for the event.

“We adults were a bit worried about the heat, but it didn’t get in the way of the fun,” Bloom said. “In fact, it added to the enjoyment. We had spritzer bottles and a sprinkler set up — which turned out to be a huge highlight of a perfect event. Almost every kid was soaked after the hour of racing.”

Both the superintendent of schools, Maureen Reusche, and Mayor Chuck Cahn attended the event. According to the testimonials page for a Race for Education, the Assumption School in Atco was able to raise $15,000 from the event.

“We were very pleased with our success of the day and hope to build on this in our future Race for Education events. We raised $15,000, surpassing our goal of $10,000, which was a great success for us,” the website said.

Bloom is optimistic other schools in the district will follow J. F. Cooper Elementary School’s lead to provide more for the students.

“Besides the fact that the kids had a blast, this event was great because it was real community building,” Bloom said. “We needed the parents to help to get the sponsors, the teachers to help with the persuasive letter writing and the business community was amazing with donations of food, prizes and gift cards.”

To learn more about Race for Education, visit http://www.racefored.com/presidents_page.html.

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