Reading for recess: Jefferson Elementary School raises money for indoor activities

Jefferson Elementary School is celebrating March Reading Month, with this year’s goals to raise money toward providing funds for indoor recess activities.

Jefferson Elementary School's third grade class, taught by Chantal Heth (far right, back row), huddle for a group shot Friday morning. The class exceeded expectations for March's Read-A-Thon — a fundraiser for indoor recess activities and supplies — by raising more than $2,900 this past month for the school. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

Jefferson Elementary School’s third grade class has exceeded expectations for the March online Read-A-Thon, raising more than $2,900 to help fund indoor recess activities and supplies.

The Read-A-Thon began March 8 and concluded March 26, with Chantal Heth’s class reigning as the reading champions, with a total of $2,915 raised and 10,131 minutes read. Heth’s top Read-A-Thon student was Treyton Krohmer, who raised $1,075 for his class.

“We are raising money for indoor recess and the kids know that in our North Dakota winters, we have indoor recess a lot. So they want stuff to entertain them besides just a deck of cards. So they’re getting some pretty fun board games, Kinetic Sand, Play-Doh, different magnet blocks and … different toys to play with while they’re inside,” Heth said, adding, “So that’s a good incentive for them too because it goes directly to benefit them.”

All throughout March, the Read-A-Thon had different dress-up days and various reading days such as “read a magazine” or “read a nonfiction book.” This is the first year that Jefferson Elementary School has taken on this fundraising challenge, secretary Sara Lawrey said, noting that usually the school will do a Jogging for Jefferson event. But with the current health situation, Lawrey said school officials decided this would be a safer and more educational fundraiser for students.

Each classroom created its own webpage on the school website, and from there, each student created his or her own page where they would log their minutes and send that link out to receive donations. Several parents, family members and friends would then share that child’s link onto their personal Facebook accounts, and donations to help fund indoor recess came in like crazy, Lawrey noted.


“... It’s amazing because a month before this, we had our Pennies for Patients and we were able to raise over $12,000 for that. So having this online Read-A-Thon right after that, we didn’t know what to expect and we thought if we could raise a thousand dollars, great. But it’s crazy,” Lawrey said.

Heth said that she made it a priority to talk to her class about the Read-A-Thon on a daily basis.

“We just talked about it every day and it kept them pumped up. And once they knew they were winning, they were sure to not lose the lead,” Heth said.

Heth would also show her class the daily updates, looking at other classes at Jefferson Elementary School to see how they were performing in terms of reading minutes and dollars raised. This proved to be a huge motivator, Heth added.

“I did individual incentives just for kids in my class. (So) the top three students that read minutes got prizes and the top three students that donated money got different prizes (such as) one is like a Door Dash for lunch. … Another one was free time, homework passes, stuff like that,” Heth said.

Lawrey said she couldn't get over how serious Heth’s students took the Read-A-Thon.

“They jumped off to a great start right away and they just wanted to keep it going,” Lawrey said. “Mrs. Heth has done an awesome job offering some incentives.”

Jefferson Elementary School, as a whole, raised $11,540 for indoor recess supplies and read 44,369 minutes. Of those funds raised, 75% will go right back to each classroom for indoor recess supplies and the remaining percentage will help fund art supplies and other necessities for classrooms.


Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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