It all began with one goal — to raise $10,000. For a small school district like Box Elder Schools, that amount seemed unreachable. Kindergarten through 12-grade physical education and health enhancement teacher Melanie Jenkins told students during a Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart assembly Thursday afternoon that sometimes having what seems like an impossible goal is what will make those involved stronger and more driven to succeed.
The assembly was a celebration of the school reaching its $10,000 goal for the American Heart Association. Then Jenkins announced the amount that the elementary and junior high school students had raised. They had surpassed their goal by raising $10,401.43. American Heart Association's Montana Youth Marketing Director Paula Baker said this is the second time Box Elder has raised that amount of money. The first time was during the 2007-08 school year when the students had raised $10,662.92. The recent donation also marked a milestone for Box Elder because it is the only school in the state that has raised that amount of money for the American Heart Association so far this year.
"Since I've been here for the past eight years, this school has been the only school to raise ten thousand dollars in the state," Baker said.
Baker added that the school is $4,000 ahead of other schools statewide.
Baker, who fought back tears at the podium, congratulated students for their efforts and told them how much their hard work would pay off to help people suffering with heart problems.
Box Elder fifth-grade teacher Courtney Little vowed at the beginning of the fundraising that if students had met the goal then she would donate her hair to Locks of Love. Humbly Little took a seat in front of students, staff and faculty as her husband, Carl Little, snipped a 12-inch ponytail off. For her act, she was awarded a medal.
Kindergartener Ridge Parisian timidly walked up in front of the crowd as Jenkins announced that he was the top student who had raised money for the cause. He raised $503, and was given a red superhero cape, a medal and a bag of items for being the school's "Heart Hero."
Students, staff, faculty, the community and businesses were recognized for helping the school go beyond their fundraising goal. Jenkins said local business who donated money were: Plain Green in Box Elder; Mint Bar in Big Sandy; and Radio Shack, McKay & Ruff Real Estate LLC, Tilleman Motor Co., Walmart, Holiday Station, Gary & Leo's Fresh Foods, Master Sports and Schine Electric, all of Havre.
"It just never ceases to amaze me how giving and how kind and how compassionate people are in this community," Jenkins said during the assembly.
Students signed their names to a Jump Rope for Heart banner as they exited the gym with a sense of pride knowing that it all began with one jump.