BES second-graders complete project for Humane Society

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First, 100 reusable water bottles and flavor packets were purchased.

Within 20 minutes, they were sold out.

“The first day when sales started, our line, we couldn’t even see the end of it. It was amazing,” Brownstown Elementary School second grade teacher Sharon Pottschmidt said. “The school just did a great job pitching in and wanting to help and bring in lots of money.”

She and fellow second grade teachers Amy Hehman, Tina McClure and Kayla Minton were pleasantly surprised with the support of the students’ project-based learning initiative to benefit the Humane Society of Jackson County.

They quickly tracked down 200 more water bottles but had to go with a different style, so Minton used a Cricut to add puppy paws on them.

The next day, all of the bottles were sold within 10 to 15 minutes.

“We were walking down the line just selling flavor packets to try and help move the line along, and then we hear ‘We’re out of water bottles again,’” Pottschmidt said.

The teachers thought about putting in one more order of bottles, but due to the challenges in receiving them quickly, they agreed the students had done enough.

“We decided ‘Hey, for our first project ever in second grade, we had done a great job, we had raised lots of money, we’ve been great little businessmen and women, we’ve been entrepreneurs, so we had been great citizens helping out our community,’” Pottschmidt said.

On Tuesday afternoon, all four teachers and their students gathered in the school cafeteria as the fundraising total of $610.44 was announced, drawing a round of applause.

Jamie Jones, president of the Humane Society, was there for the big announcement.

“We appreciate this so very much. Thank you very much,” Jones told the students and teachers.

She said the money will go toward veterinary care, food and treats for the dogs and cats at the shelter in Seymour. The Humane Society has a contract with the city to take in animals that get picked up by the animal control officer, and they help take care of them until someone adopts them or a rescue group helps find a forever home.

Jones said the number of dogs and cats at the shelter fluctuates daily, but in a year’s time, between 400 and 500 come through the facility.

The fundraiser stemmed from Brownstown Central Community School Corp. teachers receiving project-based learning training over the summer. PBL is an instructional method that encourages students to learn and apply knowledge and skills through an engaging experience.

Pottschmidt and Minton planned a unit centered around pets that covered the standards of math, language arts, civics and government. The driving question was “How can we as second grade entrepreneurs positively contribute to our community?”

One of the first authors students read in the language arts curriculum is Cynthia Rylant. McClure said her “Henry and Mudge” and “Mr. Putter and Tabby” books are favorites of both the teachers and students.

“After reading these books, we discussed where we got our own pets and decided we wanted to help the Humane Society of Jackson County,” McClure said.

Parents provided teachers with pictures of their child’s pets, Google Sideshows were created and students practiced public speaking during their class pet show-and-tell.

Since the students wanted to make a positive impact on the community, they began selling the reusable water bottles and flavor packets to the rest of the school. The fundraiser was called Paws for a Cause.

“Students learned how to add different amounts of money and give change,” McClure said. “They also learned tally marks, graphing, supply and demand and how to be a good citizen. Children learn best when dealing with real world situations.”

Students also made posters in art class to advertise the event.

The teachers were happy to witness some random acts of kindness during the water bottle and flavor packet sales.

McClure said third-grader Phoebe Preston asked for a water bottle and a flavor packet, totaling $2.50. Preston handed McClure $5 and told her to use the remaining $2.50 to pay for a water bottle and a flavor packet for the student in line behind her.

“How fun is that?” McClure said. “Phoebe paid it forward, being a great example of a good citizen.”

Other teachers had students bring in extra money to buy water bottles and flavor packets for students who weren’t able to bring in money, she said.

Also part of the project, Monica Rivera, owner of Dog Training with Monica, and Shannon Neal presented a program called Dog Stars about dog safety and showed some tricks with their dogs. The students wrote letters to thank Rivera and Neal for visiting the school.

Duel Maxie, Vance Terrell, Garrison Fritz, Ian Reinhart and Layla Neidige were among the second-graders helping with the project.

“It was fun. I got to sell packets and got to tally them,” Maxie said, noting he was surprised to see how fast they sold. “The cats and dogs are happy that we did that.”

Terrell said it was fun for the second-graders to be in charge of the sales for the whole school, and he was happy to help an organization like the Humane Society that provides homes to animals.

Fritz said he’s glad he learned about money in first grade because it came in handy while serving as cashier during the sales.

“I like that I got to count the money, and I’ve been practicing a lot,” he said.

Reinhart said he liked selling to students and teachers and knowing all of the money was going to a good cause.

“It was just fun because I got to be there with all of the people, and I know that it’s going to help the Humane Society,” he said. “I liked it because I’m a big animal person.”

Neidige said she also has multiple pets at home, so this project was important to her.

“I really liked it because I knew that it was going to raise money for the animals, and I love animals a lot, so then it made me really happy,” she said. “I really thought it was fun.”

Minton said it was great to see the school come together to support the effort.

“We’re just excited that they are kind of the examples of the school now and they know what it’s like to feel like the leaders,” she said of the second-graders. “They can take that and apply it every day.”