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EGUSD in the Spotlight
John Ehrhardt Elementary students combine academics and community service
This holiday season, students are learning through giving in Ken Patten’s fifth grade class at John Ehrhardt Elementary School.
Ehrhardt students debate over which games to buy.
The student’s generosity benefits their community and features some basic lessons in math and social science.
“In this project, academics and community service are a natural fit,” Patten said. “The students learn how to properly use a calculator and how to budget. They are also learning how to add and subtract decimals and how to calculate sales tax and totals.”
Patten’s classes have raised money for needy families and charities for the past 12 years. The project began as a class discussion about what could be done to improve a classroom gift exchange. During the first year, students raised about $500. The dollars have grown each year.
Two Ehrhardt students total their purchases.
Since the beginning of their school year in August 2007, Patten’s students raised money for their class project. This year, the 25 students collected over $1,900 toward charitable donations.
The young people raised money in many ways – garage sales, after school food and drink sales, beverage sales at soccer games, recycling cans and bottles, extra chores for family members and neighbors, donations from parents, grandparents and relatives and personal savings.
A parent chaperone helps the students on their shopping trip.
Most of the money will buy gifts for six large families, ranging in size from four to twelve family members.
“My students have done an outstanding job of showing they can make a difference in the community through this project,” Patten said. “I believe through this project, they have grown proud of their accomplishments and have learned how to be grateful for what they have. Many of the families that we help have come upon difficult times – some don’t have electricity and some have lost their homes due to foreclosure. It’s amazing to see the excitement build amongst the students as they raised money throughout the year, knowing that their efforts would improve the lives of others.”
The Patten class will donate over $150 in food to the Elk Grove Food Closet, plus a barrel of toys for the California Highway Patrol program for hospitalized and disadvantaged kids.
Photo: An Ehrhardt student calculates the cost of a toy.
The Patten fifth graders inspired other Ehrhardt teachers to discuss the importance of giving. Ms. Rodrigues’ class began collecting cans from grocery outlets and other sources to participate in the KCRA Channel 3 “Kids Can” program. Other classrooms have sponsored families through Elk Grove Unified’s Celebrate the Season program.
“I think Ken’s idea has been a great inspiration to us all here at Ehrhardt,” said Steve Brenizer, principal at Ehrhardt. “His students truly enjoy participating in the project and have really grasped onto the idea to help others during the holiday season. They have set an excellent example for others to follow.”
Photo: An Ehrhardt student selects a toy for a child.
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