Roseville students raise money for Flint with ‘penny war’

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 14, 2016

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ROSEVILLE — Students at Roseville High School raised $1,455 to help out the residents of Flint the week of Feb. 29 through a penny war.

According to Sue Dzieciolowski, a vocational child care teacher, the money will go toward the Flint Child Health and Development Fund via the city’s public relations department.

She said the idea for the penny war to help Flint spun out of a discussion and project her students had in class about the impact of lead poisoning on children, based on Flint’s struggle with poisoned water.

“We talked about the impact of what this means to the children of Flint, and how with lead poisoning, once you have it, you have it, (at least) for children,” Dzieciolowski said.  “I had already suggested doing a penny war, so I thought they needed a bit of background.”

The students were then in charge of advertising the penny war on social media and explaining the rules: Each first-hour classroom got points by donating pennies, while students could sabotage other classrooms by putting in other kinds of money, like quarters or nickels — causing the classroom to lose points. Whichever classroom had the most points at the end of the week won the penny war.

Previous penny wars raising money for lymphoma or leukemia research brought in around $2,000, Dzieciolowski said, though the last one had been a couple of years ago. As such, the first two days of the fundraiser were relatively small affairs that slowly built up steam.

As the week went on, students started getting more involved and interested, with kids going into other classrooms to “bomb” them with other coins or paper money. Dzieciolowski said that there were some surprising classes in contention throughout the week, including a business class that bounced back from a $50 bombing run to end the day in the positive, and a special education class that was in the top five for days.

Ultimately, the school’s auto shop won the penny war itself in an English class, with every student bringing in around $12 on average, she said. The winning class received a pizza lunch.

In a statement, school board President Theresa Genest said that the students’ efforts showed how much they care and are concerned about others.

“Once again, the students of Roseville have impressed all the board members and they continue to make us very proud,” Genest said in a statement.

Dzieciolowski said that the penny war came out to be a big success, and that she hopes to do it again next year — though she is also hopeful that Flint will not be needing money still at that time.

“I’ve been teaching for 23 years,” Dzieciolowski said. “There wasn’t one student in my classes that didn’t want anything to do with this; they were all on board. All of them were concerned, and all had true empathy for the whole situation.”

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