Pennies from Holton Reveal Youngest Shining Stars

The amazing youngsters from Holton Elementary School stunned their teachers and overwhelmed MCC officials by raising a phenomenal $611.51 – including 34,140 pennies -in just a two-week span to support the College’s Reach for the Star Campaign, which ended March 31.

“The students at Holton Elementary School are a wonderful example of what happens when communities pool their resources and work together to make a positive impact,” said Tina Dee, director of MCC’s Office and Community Relations.

“Their major contribution will help transform the Carr-Fles Planetarium into a state-of-the-art entertainment and education destination that will serve the community for years to come.  There is still time for others to come forward and play a starring role.  Gifts of any amount are appreciated and will help students of all ages reach for the stars.”

The kids from Holton have set the bar high for others to follow. Hoping to plant a seed of community service in their students, Holton Elementary School administrators and teachers suggested raising money for the planetarium campaign. The children had been studying about the planets, as well as learning about colleges. A recent travelling planetarium exhibit piqued their interest even more.

Taking the lead were officers and members of the Holton’s National Elementary Honor Society. In just its second year, the academic organization is among the first at its educational level in Muskegon County.  The plan was to have penny wars between the classes to see who could raise the most, explained Penny Drive Coordinator Lauma Vilums, a veteran Holton educator, who was aided by NEHS Co-Advisors Tracey Taylor and Lisa Kokx.

“We talked about bringing in change to make a change,” said Elementary Principal Carol Dawson.

No one could have anticipated the response. Each day, Honor Society students would collect the pennies and cart them to the school office. Each noon, the students would count and then roll the donations into coin wrappers. The sheer volume of change collected became too large for the school safe.

“The last penny drive we did at the high school only made 77 dollars,” noted Colleen Buckley, publicist for Holton School District.  The elementary school children had topped that total in their first days.

On March 28, the children assembled in their cafeteria to formally present their gift, which filled the red Radio Flyer wagon wheeled into the room, to Tina Dee, who accepted on behalf of the Foundation for Muskegon Community College.

“Our job was to raise money for the Muskegon Community College’s planetarium,” said Holton National Elementary Honor Society President Isaiah Villareal to the students gathered. He was flanked by the organization’s Vice President Hannah Thompson, Treasurer Haley Brant and Secretary Brianna Regeczi – all holding a large check with the donation amount listed.

“I believe we have accomplished that by raising $611.51. It was long, hard work as everyone knows, but it was worth it because now the planetarium will be better and everyone will enjoy it more."