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Culver students walked, ran and jogged to raise money at Jogaton, now they see their work pay off.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Culver elementary students spent time gathering sponsors and worked hard running, walking and jogging laps at the Culver PTO's annual Jogathon to help raise money for the new playground. Culver students are in for lots of fun as they return from summer vacation in September to find a new play structure where an old wooden one once stood.

Culver Elementary students are partially to thank for the structure since they worked, along with the Culver Parent Teacher Organization and community donors, to raise the money for the new playground equipment.

Over the last four years or so, according to Debbie Taylor, president of the PTO, students have gathered sponsorships and donations for the annual Jogathon that the PTO organizes and have walked, jogged or run laps to earn as much money as they could.

"Our elementary students have worked hard for the past four years," Taylor said.SUBMITTED PHOTO - The old wooden play structure has been on the list of things that need to go for some time. Now it has been removed to make way for the newly funded play structure.

Before the event, students take home sponsor sheets and find relatives, friends and people in their neighborhood to sponsor them. The sponsors can either agree to give the child a set amount for each lap they complete, (for example some people say they will give the an individual kid $1 per lap that they can complete on the track, in other words 15 laps would equal $15 total,) or the individual can just make a set donation. The students receive prizes for achieving different levels of sponsorship.

"Students who had at least $3 in sponsors received a Fruit by the Foot snack," Taylor said. "For $10 or more, they received a three-inch bouncy ball and students who raised over $50 in sponsorship also received a Bulldog Jogathon T-shirt which listed our business sponsors on the back. Students who earned $100 or more enjoyed a pizza party lunch with Principal Stefanie Garber."DESIREE BERGSTROM/MADRAS PIONEER - Now that the wooden structure has been removed, the site has been prepped for installation of the new structure, set to begin this week.

Since the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, Taylor said the students have been watching the funds for the project rise, literally, on a thermometer on the PTO bulletin board at the school. Alongside the thermometer, with a goal of $30,000 were two renderings of the sought-after structure to show the kids what they were working toward.

"This year was a success and we raised more than our average," Taylor said. "Our students and business sponsors brought in $16,135.24 (during the Jogathon). Mrs. Fritz's kindergarten class raised the most, with a student average of $75.24, $1730.50 in total for their class."

However, Taylor said, "Mrs. Herringshaw's third grade class brought in the most (money overall with) $1,819, with the number of students in their class, the student average was $60.63, and Mrs. Davenport's first grader Alizay Panek brought in the most funds of $821."

After raising their money, Taylor said that they asked the school district to match the funds and install the structure over the summer, so it would be ready for 2019-20 school year.

Demolition of the old wooden play structure, that the new equipment will replace, has been completed and installation of the new structure is set to begin this week.

Now that the wooden structure is gone, the remaining playground pieces are all yellow and green. Taylor said for that reason the group chose black and orange for the new structure, "We opted for black and orange, (which are) Bulldog colors," she said. They also chose the colors, "with the intention of keeping the rivalry of the Ducks and the Beavers going amongst our students and teachers."

Taylor said that the plan to tear out the old structure and replace it has been a long time coming. She said the intention of the district as well as the PTO has been to give the kids the space they need to play, adding that moving forward, they hope to continue expanding that space.

The majority of the funding came from the Jogathon, which is the PTO's biggest fundraiser of the year, but some of the funds came though business sponsors of the event and a grant from Farm Credit Services.

Taylor estimated that the structure would be complete in about a week, but did mention that the installers are running a few days behind their original date of installation on July 15.

Taylor said they hope to be able to raise funds to get more equipment in the near future.

She said the project was truly a team effort for the PTO and the students worked hard. While the younger students are the ones that raised money and will use the structure most, it really is for all the kids because even the high schoolers are "kids at heart," she said.


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