University High School teacher Tammie Hardt kisses Bob as part of a fundraiser celebrating Character Counts! Week, Friday. The student body raised money which will be donated to the Chaves County Cancer Society. Mark Wilson Photo
Sometimes good deeds deserve a little fun.
University High School students determined to make a difference in their community united to raise more than $200 this week for the Chaves County Cancer Fund. The special fundraiser culminated Friday when the teacher whose class raised the most money received the honor of kissing a “mystery” animal in front of the student body.
The student-led fundraiser was inspired by Character Counts! Week, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the drug prevention event Red Ribbon Week.
Tammie Hardt, a special education teacher at UHS, said her students took it upon themselves to raise the most money, accounting for more than three-quarters of the week’s total funds. As for puckering up to the quarter-hound, quarter-boxer, half-beagle named Bob, Hardt said that, too, is all about the students.
“It’s always fun to do something out of the ordinary in school,” she laughed. “Kids love to participate with each other, challenge each other. They love to do something besides school. With what they have to do today and the pressures that they’re put under at school, if we can do something every now and then that is a little bit more than just regular school, I think that’s good. It relieves a little pressure for everybody.”
Tim Fuller, Character Counts! executive director, said the students at UHS simply “jumped on board and ran” with the fundraiser, which he described as nothing less than a show of good character. “It’s cool. UHS is one of those schools that kind of gets a bad rap. And these are the kids who stepped up and wanted to do something good for Character Counts! Week.
“It’s pretty awesome; it’s good to just keep reminding them that this will definitely make a difference in their lives, and you’ll see that difference once they get out into the community.”
UHS Dean of Students Laura Overstreet said students and teachers alike engaged in community activities all week and on Friday dressed in purple, the Character Counts! color for citizenship. Students also designed a card that will be delivered to the local cancer center to encourage patients in treatment.
Hardt, just minutes from her anticipated introduction to Bob, said the importance for teachers to get students involved in the community cannot be overstated. “Life for them is school right now but later, it’s community. For them to be able to give back to the community speaks volumes.
“I always feel like whatever I can do that’s for a good cause, it’s a good thing. And I think as long as I follow through with what I’ve told my students I’m going to do, then that sends a message, too!”