School fights cancer with change drive

Independence Academy Charter School students Dylan Scott and Sarah Pytleski donate some extra cash for the Change for Change Drive on April 10, 2013. Al proceeds raised by the school will be donated to the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life groups in Colorado.

A recent study conducted by Visa said nearly $100 in change can be found in the average home in America. The students at Independence Academy Charter School want Grand Junction residents to donate that extra money to its annual Change for Change Drive taking place this week.

“The Change for Change Drive is part of our school’s mission to become good citizens for the community and it teaches our students the importance of giving back to the world we live in,” said Damon Lockhart, principal.

“We really promote giving change because it gets everyone involved, including younger kids who want to help out. It doesn’t matter how much each person donates because every little bit helps. We think even small change can make a big difference,” she said.

Last year, Independence Academy raised $2,278 for the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center. It was used to provide patients more recreational opportunities.

The students have their sights set on surpassing the amount raised last year. They plan to donate this year’s change to the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life groups around Colorado. Independence Academy, located at 600 N. 14th St., will be accepting donations through Thursday, April 18.

“We have several causes that we like to help and to be able to make a difference really means something to us,” said 7th grader Sarah Pytleski. “It gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling.”

Gilbert Garcia, local Relay For Life committee member, said he is thankful for all the help Independence Academy will provide. “The school raised so much for the VA last year and we’re happy to be working with the school on several different projects,” he said. “We are extremely grateful to be receiving any amount of money they raise this year because everything helps.”

The Change for Change Drive also gives students a chance to have fun. If the students surpass last year’s funds, several teachers have promised to do something “crazy,” Lockhart said.

Previously, Lockhart has slept in a tent on the school’s roof and kissed a goat. This year, students are entering suggestions for the teachers’ shenanigans.

“I think the teachers should dress up as cheerleaders and make a whole routine to perform in front of the school,” said 8th-grader Akaycia Berger. “It’d be funny if some of the teachers shaved their heads and waxed their eyebrows.”

“On second thought, that would be more frightening than anything,” said 7th-grader Zoe Stanek.

Independence Academy opened in 2004 as an experiential school, meant to give students a more hands-on learning environment. The school has since grown and offers kindergarten through eighth grade.

“We really believe in having the students actually doing things, which make the lessons more memorable and meaningful to them,” said Lockhart. “The applications make learning more real for the students.”


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