Elementary instructors' activities teach health, charitable giving

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Innovation seems to be key at Grove Elementary School in Milton-Freewater, where like many other places they're doing more with much less.

Several teachers there are helping students through such meaningful activities as a canned food drive to benefit the community, encouraging healthy eating and exercise and otherwise involving students beyond usual classroom duties.

Don Davis, a fifth-grade teacher, is leading a group in a student council role. They ran a food drive competition between elementary schools as a way to bring in more food than with previous drives.

A trophy they created will go to the school each year that turns in the most food. The class that brings in the most food wins a donated pizza party from Big Cheese Pizza.

The students on the council suggested they collect food in the cafeteria in the mornings. All donors would be rewarded with a cup of hot chocolate.

"I have donated all of the hot chocolate and the school supplies the water and cups," Don said. About 10 to 12 of the students arrived early to set up, work the booth, then clean up and put the food away. "They are a truly committed group."

Don planned to take a few of the students on Dec. 20 to the church that sponsored the food drive to help box the food into Christmas baskets, then deliver them to the families in need.

"It's just my way of having these students help out their community and realize what the holidays are all about," he said.

Shanna Vinyard, Grove fourth-grade teacher, organized "Fuel up to Play 60."

"It started off fairly slow, but seems to be gaining momentum," she said. She wanted to do something in conjunction with food services and additional activities throughout the year to inspire more activity and healthy eating among the students.

She handed out monthly fitness calendars that the students have adults sign to confirm they've done each activity. The forms are returned when completed with 20 signatures.

Each day has a suggestion for a new activity to try, such as carry all the groceries in from the car, or show a friend their bike-riding skills.

Those who complete the required number of activities each month get their name and picture posted on the wall of fame.

Kindergarten and P.E. teacher Kristy McKinney started the Turkey Trot, which ran Nov. 8-12. Students got sponsors to sign up for a donation, connected with how many laps of the track the students could make or just a flat donation.

The students walked or ran laps during their noon recess or P.E. time. They covered 4,500-plus laps and collected nearly $1,700 for the student body fund.

On Nov. 19, all grades celebrated their accomplishment with a Turkey Bowl.

Students with the most laps or money raised got to bowl against the staff with frozen turkeys and the student who returned the most money was Grove Principal for the Day on Dec. 4.

Grove Elementary Principal Steve Haugen commended staffers' extra efforts. "These three teachers are an example of the lengths all of our staff go to every day to do what's best for kids. I am really proud of the work they do."

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True West Magazine named Pendleton its Top True Western Town. Leslie Carnes, Pendleton Chamber of Commerce executive director, said

She submitted a 16-page nomination that supported by photographs about Pendleton's efforts to keep its western history and traditions alive.

"With all the projects accomplished in 2010, I just knew this would be our year."

"Everyone in town works hard to retain our rich traditions and the fine craftsmanship which has led to Pendleton's legendary reputation. We're very proud of our community and extremely pleased with the recognition," Leslie said in a release.

Yolanda Lennon, tourism promotion director for Travel Pendleton stated, "Being named the Top True Western Town by True West Magazine allows us to highlight our western roots, which have been attracting new businesses including the restoring of Hamley's and the new Hamley's Steakhouse, Virgil's at Cimmiyotti's and Montana Peaks Hat Company."

They have also expanded several new events in the last five years, such as the Pendleton Cattle Barons Weekend in May, the Christmas Carriage Parade in December and the US National Championships of Cowboy Fast Draw coming to Pendleton in September 2011. "We expect the number of visitors to Pendleton will increase because of this honor and as our reputation continues to grow," Yolanda said.

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As many readers know, Walla Wallan Yaya Sarah Yuan plans to hike up Mount Kilimanjaro this winter to raise money for Walla Walla Community Hospice in honor of family friend Tom Clark, who as Sarah said benefited from hospice care before dying from cancer earlier this year.

She and her students at Fudan International School in Shanghai, China, are organizing activities and fundraisers that promote health and raise money for this cause.

Sarah's student Deborah Xue designed the website www.mtkilimanjarohospicefundraiser.moonfruit.com where browsers can learn more about the climb, see pictures from recent events and donate.

Sarah's friends Gigi Campo and Katie Campo will also hike with her to raise money for Alzheimer's research. Their website is alz.kintera.org/sportingevents/kiliclimb. Sarah since discovered the Hospice Kilimanjaro website won't cooperate with Internet Explorer or with those who do not have a PayPal account. But donations may be made locally by addressing checks payable to Walla Walla Community Hospice c/o Sarah's mom, Nanqi You, 3080 Brisbane Dr., Walla Walla, Wa 99362.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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