Students raise funds, school principal
CHRISTIANSBURG — This year students at Christiansburg Middle School made pledges to stand up and to stand out.
Their principal made a pledge to stand as well — on the roof.
Principal Ryan Hitchman promised his students he would spend an hour on top of the school for every $100 they donated to local charities during the school’s Bully Prevention Committee’s fundraising drive from Sept. 24‑28.
The students raised just more than $700 that week, and Tuesday the school leader made good on his promise. Hitchman spent the school day — from 7:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. — harnessed to the roof according to OSHA regulations, working from his cellphone and even getting in a little casting practice with his fishing rod.
Hitchman said the school was taking a different route with their anti-bullying program this year and rather than simply encouraging students to stop bullying, they were encouraging them to find ways to actively care for others. This particular project was cooked up by the students, he said.
“It’s a student-led initiative to show the community how much they care about each other and the community,” Hitchman said.
Eighth-grader Trey Tester is one of the close to 30 student representatives who make up the Bully Prevention Committee, which launched and ran the project.
While Tester said the project was a success, he admitted that it took until the final minutes of school Friday to raise enough money to secure that Hitchman would remain on the roof for the entire day.
During the final period of school that day, he said he and other members of the committee went room to room, “just begging” for enough change to make up for the final $30 they were short.
The last-minute effort, which fellow eighth-grader Maddie Padgett described as, “like Robin Hood,” amassed $75 in change, pushing the tally over the $700 mark.
Padgett said she liked this project because it allowed her and the rest of the students to collect money for local charities, rather than for something school-related.
Padgett’s social studies teacher Betsy Osborne agreed with her student.
“It [the project] allows the kids to be advocates for a greater cause,” Osborne said.
Padgett said she also believed it had been much easier for her and her classmates to embrace the idea of helping others opposed to other methods to decrease bullying.
“I see more students stepping up to help each other than I’ve seen in the past of kids stepping up to stop bullying,” Padgett said.
While the majority of the students were very excited to see their principal on the roof as they arrived Tuesday morning, Tester said he hoped other schools and the committee also saw their efforts and would be inspired to take similar action.
For Osborne, however, it was something else she saw during the project that most excited her.
“The fact that the students came together for a cause and motivated each other to give,” she said, was the best part.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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