South Butler Intermediate PTO finds sufficient support with Laps for Learning fundraiser

South Butler Intermediate School students Seth Thompson and his friend Jeremy Fink, both 11, walk laps around the high school track as part of a fundraising event for the school’s PTO on Wednesday, September 18, 2013.
South Butler Intermediate School students Seth Thompson and his friend Jeremy Fink, both 11, walk laps around the high school track as part of a fundraising event for the school’s PTO on Wednesday, September 18, 2013.
Photo by Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
| Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Laps for Learning fundraiser has been so successful that it has become the South Butler Intermediate PTO's sole fundraiser.

It's a concept that appeals to many of the parents who watched their kids walk or run around the track at Knoch High School on Wednesday.

“They don't have to keep plugging away at the smaller fundraisers, and the parents know that. So they're willing to put more effort into a larger event,” said Barbara Ansell of Clinton Township, whose daughter Josie was among hundreds of fourth- and fifth-grade students who participated. “The kids look forward to it — not only to fundraising, but doing it together.”

Last year, the event generated a record $26,000. This year, the parent-teacher organization is aiming for $25,000.

About 300 kids, roughly 70 percent of the intermediate school's student body, walked or ran around the track to earn pledges of a flat donation or a contribution based on how many laps they complete.

“It's a huge overall community effort and I think that's why we're so successful with it,” PTO President Jill Walls said. “I think that we (also) have a really good relationship in our school with students, teachers and the principal. Because we have a good working relationship it's helped it to build.”

Many parents who attended the event said they like the fact that there's nothing to sell throughout the year to raise money.

“You don't have to hit people up every month,” said Melisa Costel of Penn Township.

They're also happy that the event involves a fun activity for the students.

“It gets the kids exercise,” said Kelly Andrasko of Winfield Township, whose daughter participated. “It's a great way to get them outside.”

The event included concession stand fare, a DJ and door prizes. But the students said they have the most fun out on the track.

“I like the challenge of seeing how many laps I can do,” said Ira Mercer, a fifth-grader.

Michael Costel, also in fifth grade, was on his 14th lap about an hour into the three-hour event.

“I like it because I get to run,” said the red-faced student before dashing off to make another round.

Many parents said that, over the past 11 years, the fundraiser has turned into an event that brings families together.

“It's better than magazine subscriptions for sure,” said Sandy Dowds as she stood at the fence watching her granddaughter Hannah Hassler, a fifth-grader, on the track. “It brings families together and the kids are excited about it. They like to get the sponsors.”

The money raised pays for the intermediate school's field trips, classroom supplies, a teacher for after-school tutoring and assemblies.

Last year, the PTO purchased about 20 smart boards, one for every classroom, as well as a set of novels for each room.

Suzanne Atwell, the school librarian and the teacher representative on the PTO board, said she uses the smart board to teach students about the online card catalog and encyclopedia.

This year, the group might use some of the money to build “cubbies” in the fifth-grade classrooms so that students have a place to hang their coats and store books and binders while they change classes, Walls said.

“They restructured our fifth grade, and it's moving between two different classrooms, and our fifth-graders don't have lockers,” she said.

If the PTO hits its $25,000 goal, all the students who participated in Laps for Learning get to use one 4-foot-long piece of duct tape to tape their principal Richard Cavett to the wall — a challenging feat given Cavett towers over students at nearly 7 feet tall.

“Last year, I took four pies in the face,” he said.

Fifth-grader Steven Sinka said he's really hoping the PTO hits its goal.

“It's going to be fun and hilarious at the same time,” he said.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or

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