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Learning to become caring neighbors

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Chesapeake Academy students Noah Struse, Francesca Wilson, Wells Young, Charlie Li and Nariah Bowen display goods collected during the school’s fall food drive.

If you notice Chesapeake Academy students scurrying around collecting pennies, don’t be surprised. They are building up stockpiles for the school’s annual “Penny Wars.”

Eighth-grader Francesca Wilson of White Stone explains what Penny Wars is all about. “Each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, classes compete to raise funds that are used to make Christmas a bit brighter for several local families. You get points for contributing pennies to your class’s Penny Jar—but you can take away points from other classes by stuffing silver coins and dollars into their jars.”

The idea may sound complicated, but the unusual scheme works quite well. Last year students raised $3,000. “Everyone gets involved, even the kindergarteners and first-graders,” said Wilson’s classmate, Wells Young of White Stone.

While the contest may be fun, it also helps students learn a valuable life lesson, said assistant head of school Julianne Keesee. She pointed out that Penny Wars is one of several initiatives designed to help Chesapeake Academy students learn the value of community service.

“Community service is not just something we do in addition to our academic programs,” said Keesee. “It is woven into the philosophy of Chesapeake Academy. Our academic program is designed to help students understand their place in the world.”

Among its ongoing initiatives, the school sponsors canned food drives to help the local food bank. Each year at Christmastime, fifth-graders organize a Giving Tree, collecting new or gently used coats, hats, socks and scarves.

“In the past we’ve organized a Ride for Relief to help victims of the tsunami in Japan and a Swim for Haiti to help earthquake victims there. The idea for these special events has come from the students themselves,” Keesee said.

posted 12.18.2013

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