Thursday, 30 June 2016 08:00

Seven Persons Grade 5/6 class comes through big

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Deanna Dola receive a rose from one of the students during the assembly at Seven Persons School. Deanna Dola receive a rose from one of the students during the assembly at Seven Persons School. Photo by Ryan Dahlman

There were tears, hugs and a lot of love at the Seven Persons School assembly celebrating the Grade 5/6 class’s 1,000 T-Shirts project.

The project started in January involving Seven Persons teacher Deanna Dola and her 19 students creating the design, ordering,  selling and distributing T-shirts.They wanted to sell 1,000 T-shirts to help raise money for three causes.
The “little engines that could” ended up selling 1,270 T-shirts which were  themed “Team Tanya” and “No One Fights Alone” in honour of Tanya Ellis who is currently battling cancer. 
From the funds raised, the Ellis family received $15,081; the Children’s Wish Foundation received $10,000 and Hope for Haiti $3,810.
The presentations were made to representatives including Donna Serr, Medicine Hat Sub-Chapter co-ordinator of the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, Hope for Haiti’s Allison Orthner (via Skype) and to Tim and Tanya Ellis whose son Trigger is in the class.
Serr had to stop her address as she was overcome with emotion.
For Calgary photographer and Creative Scrapbooker magazine’s Allison Orthner, she was thrilled with the donation and gesture.
“We have been fundraising for two years to help construction and the education at a school in Haiti. I’ve visited twice and am going back in July so there is potential for a ‘follow-up’ to see how everyone’s money has impacted the school,” explained Orthner in an interview. “In Haiti, the average salary for one construction worker is $10 to 12 per day so $3,810 would be the equivalent to paying for almost a full year of labour on the school working every day of the year.
“The organization that we are partnering with, will be facilitating the construction that this money will go towards and I will personally be helping right alongside the local Haitian workers.”
Evie Neubauer presented the Grade 5/6 group art piece titled “Helping Hands” to the Margery E. Yuill Cancer Clinic.
Besides the presentations, Dola showed a promotional video made by the students talking about why they were selling the shirts. It described how six of the 19 Grade 5/6 students had parents who had cancer — one lost a father — while many more described having many close family members and friends who had battled or succumbed to a wide variety of cancers.
Dola says the money raised by the class was in part because of the support they received from not only the locals, but from the region and beyond.
“I was amazed by the generosity shown by friends and perfect strangers,” Dola told the assembly.
Dola  herself faced challenges with health issues, not to mention her regular familial and teaching duties in addition to the extra work put into the project.
Ellis said a ‘thank-you’ presentation to Dola was an effort by those who were helped by the teacher to acknowledge the sacrifices she made.
As the gifts were handed out one by one, Ellis said repeatedly, “We got you covered.”  Gasoline cards for all the trips, a gift for Dola’s cat, chocolate, etc. Ellis pointed out Dola even found the time to make her daughter’s grad dress.
“She did all of that and her job with teaching plans. She went way above and beyond what could be expected,” stated Ellis. “She’s running on very little sleep. She’s planning and scheduling all the time. I don’t know how she (does) it.”
 Neubauer, 10, says it was special to be part of such a wonderful experience.
She and her classmates handled it well, but it was still an extremely heart warming sight especially when Dola was given numerous gifts by Tanya Ellis for all the hard work the teacher put into it.
Evie and her mother Nichole gave Dola a heartwarming hug and as part of the encouragement each of the classmates gave throughout the year, Evie was giving encouragement to a classmate on stage.
“It’s always very emotional,” said Evie following the assembly. “Tanya is like family. You just take deep breaths and do it.”
Neubauer had confidence they could reach their goal and was thrilled they surpassed it.
“At the beginning with the 1,000 number I was optimistic we could do it,” she explains. “I thought ‘We’re going to make our goal.’ I think it’s just amazing we’re helping so many people as kids — as 10, 11 and 12 year olds.”
Tanya Ellis was pleased too. While happy for the Children’s Wish Foundation and Hope for Haiti, she was most excited for the students.
“To see them standing on stage, they were so proud of themselves,” Ellis noted.
“I could see this was a special group, right from Kindergarten.”
The Grade 5/6 students gave up their end-of-year party in order to paint the town’s sports bleachers.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor

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