Just before Halloween, Thacher Montessori School fifth grader Richard Fischer brought up the idea of trick-or-treating for UNICEF. His entire Upper Elementary class of fourth through sixth graders decided to join him. Collectively they raised $457. They knew from the UNICEF collection boxes that the money would go to provide food, clean water and school supplies for children in need around the world. However, the box also stated that $500 would buy a water pump for a village. Several of the students in Richard’s class were disappointed that they had not raised enough for a pump.
Eight of Richard’s classmates decided that they wanted to join Richard in doing more for UNICEF. In early November, the committee of ten and eleven year olds gathered to brainstorm ideas for ways to raise more money for UNICEF. They discussed ideas and then voted. The clear winner: a Dance-A-Thon. Over the last five months, the three boys and six girls have worked with their teacher, Amy Smith, of Weymouth, to plan the event. The students themselves have driven the process. Fifth grader Sydney Raifman said, “Amy just sits there and makes sure that everything is running smoothly, but we’re the ones who have done all the work.”
Their preparatory work was intense. The school’s activity center was reserved, and the students had to ask the regular Friday night Dad’s Basketball group to skip a week. Nine four-dancer teams from grades 3-6 were organized. The team members got pledges for the twenty-four dance intervals. TheThree Musketeers team gathered over $500 in pledges, but The Twinkle Toes and The Boom-Shac-A-Lackas were not far behind. Snacks were purchased for the concession stand. Students went with a staff member to the store to select the perfect items. Sydney was pleased that “a parent donated $50 for snacks. We spent $54 so we only have to put in $4, and the rest will go straight to UNICEF.” The committee members also planned other activities for those who wouldn’t be dancing in a particular interval, including Bean Bag Toss, Freeze Dance, Musical Chairs and Night at the Museum.
Thacher Montessori School’s Dance-A-Thon, held on Friday, March 28, was a tremendous success. While having a great time, the students raised over $1,600, and with additional donations might reach $2,000. Through their efforts, Thacher Montessori students will enable UNICEF to provide at least three villages with water pumps.
The students understand the significance of what they have accomplished with minimal adult support. Fifth grader Helen Mahoney said, “We are more fortunate than most kids. We go to an amazing school, we have food and we have clean water. We’re glad that the money we give to UNICEF will go to those who need food, clean water and school supplies.” Sydney echoed those thoughts, “We don’t even think about it when we turn on the faucet, but other children have to walk miles for clean water.” “They might have to walk all the way home with the water balanced on their heads,” added fellow fifth grader Bowen Popkin. These Thacher Montessori School students have found a way to make a real difference in the world, starting with three water pumps.