Tears of joy trailed down Linda Fracek's face on Thursday, March 9, as she watched members of the COW Week team announce the final total for the first philanthropy week at Grove High School.
The week, called Changing Our World or COW, was developed by students in order to raise funds for a specific non-profit within the community. This year's beneficiary was the Grove Backpack program - a program which provides meals for students during the weekends and holidays.
For Fracek, the total left her not only in tears, but also speechless as students announced they raised $13,409 to provide meals for the program.
Fracek said the monies, which represents more than 1,600 meals, is the largest single donation the group has received in its eight years of existence.
"I'm speechless," Fracek said, as she wiped the tears from her eyes. "I'm beyond words. I'm so proud of these kids.
"This is like a third of our budget for a year."
For Renae Dozier, GHS principal, the unveiling serves as a milestone in her career.
"I am more proud [of the students] at this moment, than any of my 10 years of being a principal," Dozier said. "This is the baseline. It will grow from here."
Dozier said COW Week will become a fixture within the GHS calendar - the week before spring break each year - for as long as she is principal.
Both Dozier and Fracek said they were astonished by the enthusiasm students brought to the week.
"I haven't seen this much excitement in our building over a single cause," Dozier said. "But it's because we did what the kids wanted to do.
"This shows the real character of the Grove High School students. They have compassion for others, they care about the community. They care about their school.
For Luke Hammock and Nathan Boone, two of the key organizers for the event, hearing students raised more than two and a half times the original goal of $5,000 was astounding.
"It's so amazing to be able to see the community come together and raise money for a great cause," Hammock said. "I'm just beyond excited."
"It's incredible," Boone said. "Being a part of something as great as this...there's no way to explain how I feel right now."
Raising the funds
Monies for COW Week came through a variety of means, including special events like a Battle of Bands/Talent Show, Basketball Tournament, and a rummage sale.
Other funds came through dares and challenges, events at the Grove Lower, Upper and Middle School campuses, and community sponsors.
In one instance, Grove High School Assistant Principal Bobby Kreutz dared Boone to lick peanut butter from his bare foot, if his fellow students raised at least $75 for the challenge.
GHS teacher Mike Huggins accepted a dare to shave his head. Students raised more than $300 to see GHS senior Brikklyn Miller shave Huggins' head during the closing assembly.
"It was the right thing to do," Huggins said. "I stepped up to the plate and helped raise funds for the backpack program in an extreme way.
"It was way out of my comfort zone."
Seeing the crowd's reaction to Huggins, "Big John" John Kendall challenged students to reach into their pockets during the assembly to raise an additional funds to have Miller shave his head as well.
Another dare, left Trey Masri drinking a concoction of worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, sardines, eggs and flour in front of his fellow students. As an added "bonus" students challenged Masari to add human hair - left from the two hair shaving dares - to the mixture.
Still one more student, Gabe Carter, accepted his fellow classmates dare to drink the milk - left in the calf's bottle. Carter stood in front of the assembly and downed the bottle in multiple gulps.
During the assembly, winners from the Grove's Got Talent Show and Battle of the Bands, Hannah Glascow and Partly Cloudy (Ben Cloud and Tommy Heatherly) performed.
Additionally, Dozier - with help from 4-year-old Kolt Pollan, brought "Cookie" the Calf to the assembly. Pollan bottle fed the calf while students cheered.
For more information about COW Week, persons interested may contact Boone at 918-791-5083 or email@example.com; Hammock at 918-791-4997 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Donnetta Kerr, advisor, at 918-964-6124 or email@example.com. Additional information is available by contacting the high school office at 918-786-3003 ext. 3.