Ellis students race to support their education
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
ELLIS -- They already had done the work. Now was time for the fun.
Students at St. Mary's Grade School took advantage of a pleasant spring morning Friday to compete for medals and other prizes at their school's annual Race for Education.
Just before the start of the race, Principal Jim Moeder announced their goal of $21,000 for the fundraiser had been met and surpassed by $60, knowing more donations still would come in through the end of the school year.
"Couldn't ask for a better day" was the phrase of the day as students showed up in light jackets and short-sleeved shirts to participate on two different marked courses outside the school.
In the Race for Education, in its seventh year, school officials send home a card of 32 mailing labels for each student to fill out with names and addresses of family and friends. They then are sent flyers asking if they would like to participate in the fundraiser.
More than 60 percent of the student body returned full address cards. And every single student participated in the fundraiser, meaning there would be an ice cream party later in the day.
Those students who returned 32 addresses got the opportunity to simulate a pie-throwing contest, throwing dishes filled with whipped cream at sixth-grade students and at Moeder, who will be stepping down for his job as principal this summer to open a floral shop in Ellis.
St. Mary's families got the chance to hang out with their new principal, Matt Berens, who grew up in Victoria and will return home to Ellis County after several years in southwest Kansas.
Berens stood back and watched as Moeder took several pies to the face.
"This is his glory," Berens said with a laugh. "Let him take all the pies he can."
This year's money from the fundraiser is targeted for security needs and flooring and tiling in the gym and library.
"That's allowed us to earn some money for specific needs," said Moeder, who started the fundraiser at St. Mary's in 2008. "That way, we don't depend just solely on the parishioners."
"I think it's neat that people will help out our school," said Sarah Eck, a parent of seven children who either have attended or will attend St. Mary's.
"It's really interesting to see how the whole process works," added Eck, a member of the Race for Education committee this year along with Stacy Frickey, Michele Eberle and April Reed.
Eck also had a personal interest Friday as eight of the races were either her own children or nieces and nephews.
"Yes," said Eck, whose youngest child is 1, "we'll be (at St. Mary's) awhile."