Field day fun benefits American Cancer Society

By: Sara Kandel | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 4, 2013

 Eastside residents Kathy Smith (left) and Sue Ferguson release butterflies at Memorial Park in Roseville for Steenland Elementary School’s Relay Recess.

Eastside residents Kathy Smith (left) and Sue Ferguson release butterflies at Memorial Park in Roseville for Steenland Elementary School’s Relay Recess.

Photo by Sara Kandel

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ROSEVILLE — Students at Steenland Elementary in Roseville kicked off their field day May 29 with a moving tribute to Relay for Life and a $1,200 donation to the American Cancer Society.

The donation came after months of fundraising and health education through the Relay Recess program, which seeks to get children involved in Relay for Life by putting them in charge of fundraisers and incorporating health and cancer education into their curriculum.

Steenland was the only school in the Roseville Community Schools district to partake in the program, although Dort Elementary got involved later in the year and held a mini fundraiser.

“We got contacted about this in October,” explained Kathy Giese, a technical parapro for the district who headed the program at Steenland. “Diane Rogers from the administration building does Relay for Life, and they started wanting the schools to take (part) in the fight against cancer and having the kids learn in a nonthreatening way about cancer.

“We worked with the kids about nutrition, tobacco prevention and other topics. Each month, we did a different topic. Part of the other component of Relay Recess is fundraising, so money can go towards prevention, finding a cure, camps and all different things the American Cancer Society does.”

After months of fundraising and health education, third- through sixth-grade students gathered in the gazebo at Memorial Park, located across the street from the school, for the tribute and check presentation to Relay for Life of Roseville and Eastpointe.

After a few words from Giese, a class of third-grade students stood up and began to sing: “You don’t have to dress a certain way, change your hair, your style, your face or play the games some people play. You’re beautiful to me. When it seems that life just knocks you down and you don’t measure up, somehow remember what I tell you now. You are beautiful to me.”

It’s a song they’ve been practicing for months and will sing again in the same gazebo June 8 for Relay for Life.

“It’s really fantastic that the kids are putting forth the effort to do it,” said Kathy Smith, who accepted the check on behalf of Relay. “This is our first Relay Recess for Roseville-Eastpointe, so we are really excited about it and I think the kids did such a wonderful job.”

Before completing their tribute with a walk around the park, students gathered around Smith and fellow Relay representative Sue Ferguson as they released butterflies presented to them earlier in the ceremony.

Next, the kids headed back across the street to the school’s field and playground area — the tribute was a part of the field day and most kids were eager for the games to start.

“We’re doing 10 activities, and they are activities that they can do outside of school, at home, to keep them healthy for the rest of their life,” said gym teacher Autumn Pokone. “We have the shuttle run, ball roll, baton relay, obstacle course, ball race for aerobic endurance, 50-yard dash, clothespin toss, javelin throw (with foam swimming pool noodles) and scooter relay. … They don’t get ribbons — they get fun. That’s all it is for; it is not competitive. It’s just to have a good time and enjoy.”

The fun of field day didn’t distract from the ceremony; rather, it seemed to give some students time to reflect on what they had accomplished.

“I liked it a lot because I feel like I was helping my grandmother,” said 8-year-old Samuel Hayosh.  “We raised $1,200 for Relay for Life and I think that is pretty cool.”

“I think it is something that makes us more aware of our world and helps us make a difference,” said 8-year-old Michael Edwards. “I want to change this world. I want to make this world a better place for us all to live in. I think you just have to put your heart into everything you do and you can change the world. My favorite activity is the noodle throw.”

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