The chance to meet pop star Justin Bieber would be enough to motivate most tweens, but students at the Eisenhower Middle School are driving initiatives in support of worthy causes in which they believe.
Seventh grades in Bill Holzapfel’s class recently entered — and won — a contest for 50 Nook readers through a fundraiser for Pencils of Promise. The class raised a total of $1,200 in December and chose to donate it to Pencils of Promise, which builds schools in developing countries.
Barnes & Noble matched their monetary effort and gave them the Nooks as the top donor of that particular week.
“We have spoken often about the lack of funding for education in the developing world,” explained Holzapfel. “But a lot of what made this charity attractive was the grand prize.”
The grand prize winning school will be graced by a visit from Bieber, who is a Pencils of Promise spokesperson. The Eisenhower seventh graders, dubbed Team Four, are currently No. 6 out of 11,000 U.S. schools participating.
In January, Eisenhower’s student council also got involved.
Donations are continuing online. The school is also selling raffle tickets for two Nook Simple Touch readers from Barnes & Noble this week. All proceeds will go to Pencils of Promise.
Not to be outdone, seven of Loris Chen’s CO2 Crew of eight graders were recently awarded a $10,000 scholarship through the Lexus Eco Challenge.
The girls raised $490 for the Lorrimer Sanctuary in Franklin Lakes and a implemented a campaign to raise awareness about NJ’s no idling law.
The students won the prize under an Air/Climate category in a contest designed to inspire and empower young people to learn about and improve the environment. Relatives were asked to make pledges to reduce car idling. The CO2 Crew, which grew out of the Wyckoff Extended Learning program, was one of 16 schools across the U.S. to receive scholarships and grants from Lexus.
“There are economic and environmental benefits to not wasting gasoline by idling a motor vehicle for more than three minutes,” said Chen. “The team cited the role of trees in carbon cycling and air quality improvement as the reason for supporting Lorrimer Sanctuary.”
“It really worked because it is winter and everyone is idling,” said CO2 Crew member Kim, 14.
The Lorrimer Sanctuary will use the $490 to replant trees lost in Hurricane Sandy, some of which house Cooper’s hawks in the spring. The donations to the sanctuary continue to be made through the New Jersey Audubon Society.
Of the Lexus monies won so far, each student received a $1,000 scholarship, $2,000 is dedicated to the school’s science programs, and Chen is donating her $1,000 winnings to a student fund to supply items for future projects.
The Eisenhower CO2 Crew is now qualified to participate in the Final Challenge for a chance at a $30,000 grand prize.
The CO2 Crew was required to define an environmental issue and design and implement the plan this month.
The CO2 Crew is currently creating a website to get more Wyckoff schools involved in idling reduction, such as inspiring youngsters to walk, carpool or ride their bikes. Called “Small Steps to a Carbon Neutral Future,” the site will include an informational packet.
Final Challenge winners will be announced in March.
“Because they believe in it, they’ve been empowered,” said Eisenhower Principal Christopher Iasiello. “We have seen students that show initiative, motivation and do the best jobs possible get rewarded for it.”
“I love that the girls are investing their time in this and taking responsibility to get it done,” said Chen.
The CO2 Crew, which sometimes goes by the name Compost Queens, is also building a composter from re-purposed materials for the community garden at Eisenhower.
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