Menahga special education students initiate fundraiser

By Nick The Menahga High School special education students are trying to take their field trip fundraising into their own hands this spring. Since the beginning of March, special education students hav...

Filling vending machine
Menahga students fill a pencil vending machine. (Nick Longworth/ Enterprise)

By Nick Longworth

The Menahga High School special education students are trying to take their field trip fundraising into their own hands this spring.
Since the beginning of March, special education students have been maintaining, operating and stocking a single machine in the hopes that it will lead to further self-sufficiency in their out of class endeavors.
“We are trying to raise some money for an educational field trip that we do every spring. In the past, we have been going around to businesses in town and asking for donations, and they have been very generous. But after a while we thought it would be really good if we tried to raise some money on our own, instead of keep going back to the same business every year,” said Brad Schultz, a high school special education teacher with the district for the past 11 years.
“We thought of how we could do a fundraiser that doesn’t require them to overly handle money or merchandise, and this has been a really nice way for them to do that.”
The way is simple: If any student is in the need of a pencil, eraser, mechanical pencil or pen they now have a new option at their disposal. Rather than soliciting a friend for the device or haggling with a teacher, they are now able to find one at any time for only 50 cents in the hallway by the media center.
“We order a case of pens or pencils and then when we have enough money built up we send back a payment to get more. Once we have enough raised and start making a profit, then we can start buying more,” said Schultz.
The money is collected on a weekly basis by the special education math class, and then counted, and re-counted to ensure the number totals are accurate. Finally, once the final totals have been determined, the money is logged away by Schultz into an account to go towards their spring field trip, which is yet to be determined.
“250 pens cost $100 and we sell them for 50 cents apiece, so it’s about a 35 percent profit we’re making right now. We’ve raised close to $700 since we started, which is pretty amazing; we should have been doing this years ago,” Schultz said.
“It’s a good product too. A lot of fundraisers are candy bars, but this is something that students can use. And now I don’t have to give away free pencils also.”
The fundraising activity itself – profit aside – is multi-beneficial Schultz says, with students learning valuable lessons along the way, often unintentionally.
“It’s been a good way to incorporate math skills and concepts they have been doing this year; they’re doing inventory and calculating the money. Then we’re going to take the money to the bank and watch it go through the coin counter and get a deposit slip to see why it’s important that they’re accurate with their counting,” Schultz said.
“It teaches the importance of accuracy and checks and balances. Twice now the district has emailed back saying we’ve been off on our count, even a quarter or 50 cents. We talk about how that is important and how when you go to the bank, they are going to care if you’re off by even a little; it’s some good lifelong skills they’re learning. It also teaches them responsibility and the value of earning money to go on a trip; they’re working towards a goal, and it gives them a little more power to attain it. I think it motivates them and they enjoy doing it,” Schultz said.
“One of the best things is it teaches self-confidence. They see a lot of success and it’s just a feel-good kind of thing that they are doing,” said Superintendent Mary Klamm.
Schultz doesn’t plan to stop the fundraiser at the end of the year, but rather begin again at the beginning of next. This time it will run all year long.
“I think the whole school has benefitted from having the machine there now,” Schultz said.
“I would like to eventually be able to fund a field-trip 100 percent by this, but in the meantime it’s teaching them some really good lifelong skills.”

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