MCPS students create animals, raise funds
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Second-grader Madelyn Langford held the tiny yellow satin star between her thumb and forefinger.
“Okay, now make a wish,” said Tom Gwinn of Southern School Services, who was manning the stuffing machine.
Madelyn paused, eyes closed, then tucked the wishing star firmly inside her new toy pony. Gwinn zipped the animal up with a small metal tool, then put pony, an outfit, and “adoption papers” inside a specially-designed carrying box and handed it all back to Madelyn, who hugged the box to her chest as the next child stepped up to the Animaland stuffing machine.
In its newest fundraiser, Morgan County Primary School sold a whopping 280 stuff-them-yourself animals like Madelyn's pony. The program, similar to the wildly popular “Build-A-Bear Workshop” concept found at malls across America, allows students to purchase and then create their own stuffed animal, complete with a wishing star and adoption papers. The school receives six dollars of each $20 animal sold, and kids could pick from 20 different stuffed figures, ranging from eagles and pink poodles to gorillas and lions.
The project was so popular, in fact, that “Animaland” had to come to MCPS on two separate days—last Thursday and Friday—to fill all the orders.
“It's unbelievable,” said Gwinn. “We've had great participation at this school.”
The proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to purchase a software package called “Headsprout,” according to principal Dr. Betsy Short. All grades at MCPS will be able to take advantage of the levelized software that helps improve reading skills.
“Everything we've read about [Headsprout] is very postive,” said Dr. Short. “We've talked to other schools that have had great success with it.” Although the new program can help children at all levels, Dr. Short said that the program would have a special focus at MCPS.
“We're going to use this with our struggling readers,” she said.
Students were invited to take home an Animaland brochure several weeks ago and purchase an animal and an outfit, if they liked, to create on the appointed day. Classes began queuing to stuff their animals on Thursday, and those that did not get to create their animal then came during Field Day festivities on Friday. The fairly significant $20-$25 price range for an animal and an outfit did not seem to phase parents overmuch—some kids purchased two animals.
“They're fun,” said Cody Stewart, 8, holding up his new Koala bear.