As I was heading to a meeting at the Department of Education on Wednesday, I walked into the parking lot and past two Red Cross vehicles.  The Red Cross was at the secondary site to conduct the Student Senate annual blood drive. 

The blood drive is a great event at the High School as the Student Senate typically meets or exceeds the expectations for blood collection during the drive.  We often have many first-time donors from the students along with regular blood donors. 

The blood drive is a means of giving back to the community and an example of the many ways students and staff across the district offer support to those in need or simply give something back to community.

I would like to take time over the next two weeks to highlight some of the many events or efforts within the school district to support the community.  Although I cannot cover everything, I think the list demonstrates the many ways in which students are taught or encouraged to think of others!



Under the direction of teacher Nancy Anderson, students in the JCE second grade class have collected 1 million pop tabs!  The students have been collecting the pop tabs for a number of reasons, but have given them, at the end of year, to McDonalds in support of the Ronald McDonald houses. 

The efforts were reinforced just before Christmas when the news featured a story about a family that stayed at the Ronald McDonald house when their daughter was extremely sick.  The little girl is now going to be much better—but was supported by efforts like those of our second grade students to collect pop tabs.

According to Nancy Anderson, “The 2nd graders made 1 million pop tops after 6 years of saving them.  

“We counted (estimated) the ones we got from all of the collections and ended up with about 80,000 this year.  With the ones we had from the beginning of the year we now have 93,500 in our garbage can outside our classroom. We will keep saving and take all of them in to McDonald's in Waite Park at the end of the year.” 

It was exciting for the group to reach 1 million because the collection started, six years ago, with a question about how much “a million was.”  Mrs. Anderson took a very positive approach to teaching the students about a million.



As students headed into the holiday break, the Middle School conducted a contest to support the ROCORI Food Shelf and contribute meals to those in need.  The classrooms across the Middle School competed against each other in a positive effort to raise food and money for the Food Shelf. 

The contest, coordinated by the Middle School Student Senate, set a goal of raising 6000 meals.  The meal number was based on both the cost of a meal and the amount of food collected, as measured in pounds. 

Through the contest, the students supported a total of 8,375.5 meals!  They collected $1,817.10 in monetary support and 1,328.5 pounds of donated food or other items needed at the Food Shelf.

Marsha Gilbertson, Student Senate Advisor, described the benefit challenge this way.  “Our December challenge began Monday, December 5th and was final Wednesday, December 21st.   RMS 1st hour classes were encouraged to bring in the following:

1. Food shelf items (canned goods, toilet paper, paper towels, deodorant, shampoo, soap, sugar, flour, boxed meals, and/or baking supplies)

2. Monetary donations.”


For purposes of the challenge, 1.2 pounds of food was the equivalent of one meal while each dollar donated counted for four meals.

As part of the contest, the Student Senate made a deal with Middle School Assistant Principal Jake Nelson.  Here is how Mr. Nelson described the results:

“The deal the Student Senate and I made was my hair would be colored (just before the break) if they reached their goal of 6,000 meals.  Originally I was going to show up at lunch with my hair colored. 

“There were suggestions,” Mr. Nelson continued, “that I get it done in front of all the students and staff.  In honor of students and staff reaching and surpassing the goal by collecting over 8,000 meals, I will be getting my hair colored in the gym in front of everyone prior to the benefit activities.”

Ms. Gilbertson concluded the description as, “The Student Senate worked with our local food shelf to get all donations to our community in time for the holidays.  RMS staff and students celebrated their success by participating in an Ugly Sweater contest, along with various activities from 1-3 p.m.  GO Spartans!”



These are just a couple examples of the significant efforts made by students and staff to support other organizations and activities in the region.  Next week, I will share other examples and broader lists of events led by our students!

Through many different activities and approaches, students and staff in the district give back to the community.  The activities are often designed, developed, and conducted by the students but are sponsored to help demonstrate the importance of giving back.  Students and staff have done fantastic work to support initiatives and needs across the district!