PORTAGE | What is the best way for middle schoolers to fight cancer? Giant rolling hamster balls, of course.
Willowcreek Middle School pulled out all the stops for its annual year-end Mega Party: bounce houses, obstacle courses, dancing at centerfield, frozen T-shirt contests, sports, and yes — enormous inflatable balls large enough for students to enter and roll around.
This year, Willowcreek connected the fun with a deeper purpose — a Relay for Life with the American Cancer Society. The Willowcreek school family includes several cancer survivors, including both principals, and a few faculty are currently battling cancer.
Kyrie Vanderlugt, a seventh-grader who lost both of her grandmothers to cancer, appreciated combining the two activities.
“Having the Mega Party support the Relay for Life gives kids more motivation to donate throughout the year,” Vanderlugt said.
“It’s an easy way to raise money, and you get the fun out of it too.” said seventh-grader Abby Dougherty.
For the past few months, the students have been learning how to prevent cancer and raising money to fight the disease. Dana Rotzien, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, said most of the $2,500 raised was donated one quarter at a time to classroom piggy banks. Every time students “Feed the Pig,” they earn a stick of sugar free gum.
The Tuesday festivities started with a Luminary Ceremony to remember those who have died from cancer and those who are still fighting it.
Principal Michelle Stewart expressed gratitude for financial support from ArcellorMittal. Mittal funded a teacher-led initiative, called the FISH Group, based on the world famous Fish Philosophy to boost morale and improve results through fun and attentiveness. This FISH Group spawned the idea to pair the Mega Party with the Relay for Life, and Mittal donated the funds for the pizza and prizes at the party.
Stewart affirmed the school’s emphasis on community service.
“If you provide them avenues to have fun and to be of service, they will rise to the occasion,” she said.