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District raises record amount for charity

| Saturday, Dec. 22, 2001, 12:00 p.m.

Plum School District's hard work paid off Friday for the second consecutive year with record-breaking fund-raising efforts for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The district raised at least $72,887, a $15,000 increase over last year's total.

"I am overwhelmed by the amount of money," Plum Superintendent George Cooke said yesterday. "But I also know there was a lot of hard work done by teachers, students and staff."

Last year, Plum schools were No. 1 in the nation for school districts raising money for Make-A-Wish. Plum collected $57,175 in the inaugural year of the program.

"It's an outstanding example of what the community can do working together for a great cause," school board Vice President Gary Horner said.

National Honor Society and television production students at the high school worked to put the telethon on the air from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. yesterday. The students' jobs included hosts, directors, a producer, graphics designer and floor director. The telethon aired on Channel 18, Plum's community access cable channel.

Steve Lisowski, 17, a senior and member of the National Honor Society and television production class, said participating in the telethon was beneficial for many reasons.

"It's great to help out Make-A-Wish," said Lisowski, who was a host for the telethon. "And it's good because you learn everything (about television production) by doing this."

The broadcast highlighted the fund-raising efforts of each school in the district.

Some of the fund-raising activities at the high school included: a Buy A Guy auction during which girls "bought" a boy to do their bidding for a day; a battle of the bands; Make-A-Wish dinner and homeroom competition.

The students emphasized that they began planning for the telethon last summer. The elementary buildings and junior high school conducted their own fund-raisers. The National Honor Society students at the high school coordinated the activities.

Some of the other activities included a jog-a-thon at Adlai Stevenson Elementary School and a softball game with local celebrities at Holiday Park Elementary.

"It has been nonstop," said Greg Nicholas, 17, a senior and president of the National Honor Society.

Rick Berrott, television production teacher, said the idea for the telethon originated with Bill Evans, the father of a deceased Plum student who said that Fox Chapel Area High School has done such a telethon for a decade and suggested Plum give it a try.

"It is tremendous - not only the amount of money the district raises but the National Honor Society students organize the fund-raising activities, and the television production students do the scripts and the other jobs. It is good experience for them - real world experience."

Many donations were highlighted during the 3 1/2 hour program.

Foreman Architectural Engineering in Zelienople, the firm working on the $43 million construction and renovation project at the high school, also contributed to the cause by donating $200.

"We are here for three years working on the high school," said John Kamer of Foreman. "We feel we are part of the community. Make-A-Wish is an important organization, and we feel we are a part of the team."

The telethon will be rebroadcast on Channel 18 throughout the holiday season.

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