EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — After they were inspired by a third-grade student fighting cancer, students at Davenport Elementary raised $3,100 for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Oncology Department by collecting change for a chance to see a teacher get pied in the face.
The total raised, which included contributions by staff and the community, was revealed at a pep rally Friday.
“I feel like the kids were super-engaged and the energy in there was incredible,” said Colleen McGroarty, a special education teacher for kindergarten and third grade. “I feel like people knew we were doing something special and great.”
Jacob, a third-grader who transferred to the district this year, was found to have a grade 2 astrocytoma in 2013 and has been treated at CHOP, McGroarty said.
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An astrocytoma is a type of pediatric brain tumor, according to CHOP’s website. About 4,500 new brain tumors are diagnosed each year, and they are the most common cause of cancer deaths.
“It’s affecting his fine motor skills,” McGroarty said, but added that “he’s super smart and his attitude is great.”
For the fundraiser, students brought in change and added it to the jar that corresponded to a team of teachers.
“Whoever had the most money was whip-creamed in the face in front of the whole complex,” she said. “The kids got super into it. They tried to fill the team’s jar as fast as they could.”
The pep rally had an Olympic theme and featured a dance-off, scooter races, a marshmallow toss and a torch relay, culminating in the reveal of the lucky teachers who would get pied — a team of two first-grade teachers and paraprofessionals, as well as a kindergarten teacher, who had $500 in their jar.
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The fundraiser has grown to the middle and high schools, McGroarty said. Change collections have been announced at both schools to add to the grand total donated to CHOP.
“It’s crazy how you start with a small idea and it just blossoms,” she said. “The support of the entire district has been awesome.”
More than 1,000 people, between students, staff, parents and administrators, attended the pep rally, McGroarty said, with 30 to 40 staff members volunteering.
And, of course, Jacob got to pie one of the teachers.
“It’s been one of the experiences I think I’ll never forget as an educator,” McGroarty said.