Finding an actual use for the lowly penny at CMS

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

In the era of $100 barrels of oil, a yo-yo stock market and a dollar that more closely resembles the value of the peso, the onset obsolescence of the penny is pronounced.

The smallest unit of currency available to Western man, Abe Lincoln's copper likeness seemingly would be better melded into copper piping or a town square statue.

But don't tell that to Carson Middle School students - not this week anyway.

Someday, these sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students will recall, perhaps with great nostalgia, the week a penny meant everything.

The students, prior to the school day's start and during lunch breaks, are encouraged this week to fill up water-cooler bottles on decorated pushcarts with pennies.

Yep, pennies.

Each day the jugs are unloaded and the pennies are counted. Each grade competes against one another as well as the staff.

All proceeds of the "Penny War" will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the national nonprofit that has, since 1980, given children with life-threatening medical conditions the chance to fulfill one specific wish.

In its first 28 years, Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted 162,280 wishes, or approximately one every 40 minutes.

For each penny a class donates to Make-A-Wish this week, they receive one point.

The class with the most points on Friday wins a special class luncheon with a DJ spinning music and a special menu.

But, there's a catch.

If someone from another grade wants to sabotage a class, they have but to stick silver change into their rival's jug.

"Lets say you have 100 pennies in your jug," said Carson Middle School Principal Sam Santillo, "and some student from another (grade) comes along and sticks 10 dimes in - you're back down to zero (points)."

Wednesday at lunch, it appeared the sixth graders were doing their best to sabotage other grades.

"I think they've gotten us pretty good," said eighth grader Nick Hummel, who was pushing around the eighth grade penny cart during lunch. "I think (our grade) is about in last - but we've got a ways to go."

Leah Kniffen, another eighth grader, said her primary focus is to get the student body as a whole to keep giving.

As the week is more than half-over, there is a ways to go if last year's donation to Make-A-Wish Foundation is met.

"We're looking at - we have about $320 right now, I think," Leah said. "Last year we were about at $4,000 - so we gotta get moving."

Staff also competes against students, principal Santillo said. But thus far, staff totals seemed to be lagging as well.

"They don't seem to have a lot in here," said eighth grader Silvia Arreguin. "I guess they have a couple more days left too."

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at or 881-1219.


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