Schools are reinventing fundraisers with bug eating and rooftop sleepovers

From various activities like bake sales to talent shows, educators and students nationwide dedicate countless hours each year to organizing fundraisers that aim to support vital programs, enriching activities, and local charities.

While traditional fundraisers like car washes and wrapping paper sales can provide extra funds, imagine if a school could create a hugely successful fundraising event that not only brings in money but also engages and educates students on a schoolwide level.

That’s exactly what three schools recently did to boost school spirit and bring innovation to their fundraising efforts.

Principal Stephen Sippel, of Central Academy in Middletown, Ohio, gets support from students, families, and staff on Oct. 17 as he prepares to spend the evening on the school’s roof.
Permission granted by Stephen Sippel

Sleeping on the school roof

On October 17, Principal Stephen Sippel voluntarily slept under a tent on the roof of Central Academy in Middletown, Ohio, enduring cold temperatures around 40 degrees even though he had “the worst night’s sleep ever.”

However, the following morning, as students arrived at the K-6 school and saw their principal waving from the roof, the excitement on their faces made the campout worthwhile.

The principal’s sleepover on the roof was part of a fundraising effort that also included an all-school walk-a-thon. The goal was to raise $10,000 to adopt a “facility” dog, which would be trained to provide therapy and emotional support for students.

Half of the school’s 360 students qualify for free and reduced-price meals, and some have experienced trauma or anxiety. Principal Sippel promised that if they met the $10,000 goal, he would sleep on the roof, and despite falling $700 short, the district superintendent contributed the remaining amount.

As a result, the school would indeed be adopting a therapy dog, who will arrive in January. A trial period will take place to ensure the dog is a good fit for the school, with a teacher responsible for caring for the dog in Sippel’s office during the school day.

Principal Sippel stated that the success of the fundraiser was not only about meeting the financial goal but also about the support and participation from students, staff, and families. The walk-a-thon generated school spirit and joy in working towards a shared goal.

“There is a lot of power in your community that many times, especially in poorer communities, we dismiss and lower our expectations for what we can possibly raise or do,” Sippel said. “I think my tiny school is evidence that you can do great things when the community comes together.”

Eating unusual critters

Whitehaven Elementary STEM Principal Tommy Elliott tried a cooked scorpion for the first time on October 23 in front of students and staff at the Memphis, Tennessee school.

This culinary adventure occurred during the school’s annual event to celebrate World Edible Insect Day. The event takes place as part of the school’s first-quarter entomology study, where students explore the benefits of consuming insects.

During the event, students pay $2 to watch their principal eat a bug they choose through a schoolwide survey. Other staff members are also invited to eat bugs, as it is a fundraising event for the school.

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