When your student—or your niece or your neighbor’s son—offers to sell you cookie dough, cinnamon rolls or wrapping paper for their school’s fundraiser, you know the money is going to a good cause.
At Cascade Middle School, these funds help cover transportation for field trips, entry fees to learning venues like OMSI, student teambuilding workshops, behavior rewards and school equipment.
But this fall’s fundraiser came with an added incentive: If the students raised $20,000 in the Parent Teacher Organization fundraiser, their principal and assistant principal would climb to the top of Mt. St. Helens.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically,” said Principal Chris Rugg, recalling the seven-hour trek that took him and Assistant Principal Joan Huston along trails, over boulder fields and through fresh snow before they reached the rim of Mt. St. Helens and flew the Cascade flag—documented in photos and video.
“At Cascade, we talk a lot about perseverance,” Huston explained, describing the all-school assembly where they debuted the video. “When Chris came up and summited, I said ‘This is what perseverance looks like.’”
The students erupted in cheers.
Rugg and Huston were brainstorming last spring, thinking of ways to build student enthusiasm toward school, when Rugg suggested climbing the mountain.
“Because Joan climbs Mt. St. Helens all the time,” he explained, “and I knew I’d never do it unless I was forced to.”
When it came time for the PTO fundraiser, they made that the big challenge: If the students raised $10,000, Rugg and Huston would spend the day on roller skates or blades; if they raised $20,000, the administrators would climb the mountain.
“It gets the kids excited about school,” Rugg explained.
Full disclosure: The fundraising had reached about $17,000 when Rugg and Huston made their climb. The weather window was closing, and the students had long surpassed last year’s efforts, which raised about $11,000.
Next up: Watch for Rugg and Huston to spend a day rolling through their school’s hallways near the end of October.