Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Bluffton Middle School eclipses past funds raised for Riley
$5, 024.59: the amount of money the Bluffton Harrison Middle School raised over the course of this past week for Riley Children’s Hospital.
Called “Riley Week,” the students and teachers at the middle school participate in various activities and games to encourage monetary donations for Riley.
This philanthropic tradition first began with former MS principal Joe Ogden in the early eighties, and has transformed and progressed over the years to a statewide recognized event. Ogden called it, “a great way for young kids to learn that there are others a whole lot worse of than them.”
Kicking off the last five days before Christmas break, the students dress up in different themed attire each day, such as Spirit Day, Mismatch Day, Pajama Day and Wacky Hair Day. In order to participate, however, the students must pay one dollar each day, of which all the proceeds are donated to Riley.
One Riley Week tradition that has remained strong over the past several years is the faculty versus student athletic competitions, a culmination of the week’s festivities. Teachers, coaches and administrators take on the 8th grade girls’ volleyball team in front of the entire student body, and then do the same against the 8th grade boys’ basketball team. Usually intense and almost always comical, this event is one of the most popular during Riley Week.
When the concept of supporting Riley first came about the fundraising lasted an entire month. Each classroom in the building set up a booth in the cafeteria during lunch and sponsored different games from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Since then the festivities have been condensed to just one week. Over the years there have been auctions, bake sales, pop and candy sales and even homework passes for sale. One year, former PE teacher Ted Taylor sold raffle tickets to the students, and the winner had the honor of snipping off his infamous ponytail.
This year the middle school tried something a little different to finish out the week. Beginning with the vision of current vice principal Rick Mettler, students participated in “Middle School Has Talent,” a talent show put on for the student body and community members at the end of the school day on Tuesday.
With over 20 student participants from all grades, the talents ranged from singing to dancing to a Judo demonstration. One student even belly-danced to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. A panel of judges from various areas of expertise, including Superintendent Wayne Barker, evaluated the performances and awarded three checks.
Claiming third place and a $50 check was 5th grade student Lexie Ramseyer with her rendition of “Mean Girls” by Sugarland. Flair Times Four, a group of 6th grade girls consisting of Caroline Mettler, Sydney Longenberger, Payton Davidson and Lauren Dent, got the audience to their feet with their performance of “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus. The girls got second place and walked away with a $75 check. Macy Reiff, 8th grade, clenched first place and $100 with her inspired version of “Joy to the World” by Nick Jonas.
Although the talent show was an upbeat event filled with singing and dancing, jokes from Mayor Ted Ellis who emceed the event and karaoke from the audience during intermissions, the program opened on a somber, but inspiring note.
Almost eight years ago, an 8th grade student named Corey Betts walked the halls of Bluffton Middle School. What distinguished Corey from most middle school students was the fact that he had Leukemia. Diagnosed in fourth grade, Corey had gone into remission and was seemingly healthy. He participated in the Riley Week festivities his 8th grade year, and even shot several three pointers during the faculty/student basketball game. But during Christmas Break that year, Corey was readmitted to Riley Children’s Hospital because his cancer had returned, and unfortunately he never made it out.
After speaking about Corey and presenting a video tribute, assistant principal Rick Mettler said “the emotions that filled the gym were overwhelming.”
“Corey Betts made Riley personal for our school and community,” John Bennett, former BMS principal said. “The whole community has embraced the idea of supporting Riley and I think that is a true testament to the quality of community we have.” Bennett also serves on the Kids Caring and Sharing Board through Riley Children’s Hospital.
The week’s festivities came to a close with the presentation of a check for $5, 024.59, the total amount the students raised throughout the week. Over the past 30 years the students that have passed through BMS have raised over $75,000 for Riley Children’s Hospital, making Bluffton one of the top money-raising school’s for Riley in the state.
Mettler closed the program by thanking the parents and students for their unwavering dedication and support to the cause. “I encourage each and every one of you to do something for someone else over Christmas Break. Don’t do it because you have to or because you will get a pat on the back. Do it because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “And if you recognize the value in helping others, then the teachers in this building are truly doing their job.”
Posted by Jerry Battiste at 10:20 AM