2013-06-27 / News

Students raise cash for dying children

By Margo Sullivan


Clockwise from foreground, Sam Wolfe, Madison Gray and Layne O’Connell, all 9, and Justin Hodrick, 10, brainstorm days before the penny carnival. Melrose Avenue School fourth-graders last week organized the event to benefit A Wish Come True, a charity that grants wishes to children with terminally ill diseases. 
Photo by margo sullivan Clockwise from foreground, Sam Wolfe, Madison Gray and Layne O’Connell, all 9, and Justin Hodrick, 10, brainstorm days before the penny carnival. Melrose Avenue School fourth-graders last week organized the event to benefit A Wish Come True, a charity that grants wishes to children with terminally ill diseases. Photo by margo sullivan Two days before last week’s penny carnival, Sara Head, 10, said she has never been to a real fortune-teller.

But she has seen one on TV. So for the annual penny carnival at Melrose Avenue School, she and a classmate decided to make a booth to tell fortunes. To make it even more fun, the girls decided to dress up like fortune-tellers.

“We went out and got really big scarves and big necklaces,” said Sara. The girls put their own costumes together, she bragged, without the help from their parents.

Sara is the daughter of Lori and Bud Head. Along with her fourthgrade classmates, the students sat around preparing for the event that took place on the school playground June 26.

Children from kindergarten to third grade go to the carnival. The youngsters pay to play games and raise money for charity, teacher Rebecca Bringhurst said. The cost is between seven and 10 cents a game.

Typically the children raise about $300, Bringhurst said, but this year the carnival produced a little extra due to a supply of leftover prizes from the 2012 event. As a result, the students reduced expenses because they didn’t have to buy as many yo-yos and plastic spiders.

Everyone takes home a prize, win or lose, according to Ben Cowan, 9, and Wyatt Daft, 10.

Ben, the son of Kelly and Chris Cowan, prepared a beanbag toss for the younger children and said each player would receive two prizes.

Wyatt said everyone wins a prize playing his game, too. His game is called Water Balloon Bonanza, but he had to change the original concept due to school rules.

“We can’t do water balloons,” he said. “So we are just keeping the name.”

Wyatt said the game is “like a sponge fight.” The younger children will throw sponges at Wyatt and his partner and try to hit them, while the fourth-graders defend themselves with Frisbee-size shields.

“It’s just for fun,” he added. “They get a prize even if they don’t hit us.”

Wyatt is the son of Jim and Darlene Daft.

The children considered donating the proceeds to the Red Cross and to the Potter League for Animals, but ultimately settled on A Wish Come True, a Warwickbased charity.

A Wish Come True grants wishes to children with terminal illnesses. Rosemary Bowers is the proprietor of the organization, and a long-standing friend of Bringhurst.

Bowers came to the school June 24 to speak to students about the organization’s work. The kids were suppose to present Bowers with a check, but due to weather, the carnival didn’t take place the Friday before.

Bowers told the class stories about granting wishes. Sometimes, the wish does not come true in time, she told the children, according to Jazzmyn Caminero, 10, daughter of Ivelisse and Jason Caminero.

Jazzmyn said one child wanted to see his aunt and uncle but died before the trip could be arranged.

“I just hope I raise enough money so other children could have a wish,” said Jazzmyn, an fan of art who sold face paintings at the penny carnival.

“It costs an average of $3,000 to $5,000 a wish and almost 10 wishes a month get granted,” Bringhurst said. “These wishes might be the last fun thing a child will be able to do.”

Bringhurst said the children invent the games themselves and are suppose to connect the games to the curriculum. For the kindergarten class, for example, counting out pennies means a chance to handle money and figure out how much change to expect back. But sometimes, it can be challenging to figure out the connection between classroom and game.

“I don’t know,” the teacher confessed when asked about one game called Wagon Pull. She guessed there could be a connection to the lesson about the Oregon Trail.

“I think they pack a wagon and pull it over the finish line,” Bringhurst said.

“The kids look forward to it every year,” said teaching assistant Janet Smith.

According to Smith, it’s neat for the fourth-graders who put on the carnival because they were the ones paying to play the games the previous four years.

Students in all the fourth-grade classes participated. Their teachers are Amy Simoes, Denise Martinelli and Peter Travers, who is substituting for Julie Geary.

Bringhurst teaches special education but was assigned this year to fourth grade.

As for the fortune-teller’s future, when asked if she planned to dole out good fortunes to everyone who came to the booth, Sara said the messages are a little more subtle than that.

For example, a youngster asked Sara a question, “Am I going to find $20 on the ground tomorrow?”

“Then we’d say, ‘I sense good fortune in your future,’” Sara said. “Or something like that.”

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