St. C. students donate to Parkinson’s research

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Students at St. Clairsville Elementary School have been brushing up their spelling skills while raising money for charity.

This marks two years that second grade teacher Josh Shutler, with help from Dawn Maroon, also a second grade teacher, has organized a spelling bee with the goal of raising money and awareness for Parkinson’s disease. Students in grades kindergarten through third garnered pledges of at least $25 to take part in two spelling bees, one that was held last Tuesday for kindergarten and first grade students and one held last Thursday for second and third grade students. In addition to raising money, the spelling bees were part of the elementary school’s Literacy Week.

With their pledges, students managed to raise approximately $3,800, which will be donated to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Student Addison Lucas raised $200 to become this year’s top pledge earner. Last year the school raised $2,800, and Shutler hopes the fundraiser will continue to grow in the years to follow. He said the fundraiser received support from local businesses, parents and others in the community.

Shutler and Maroon remarked that students took their spelling bee seriously, studying in free time, even though the event turned out to be low-pressure and fun. Two sisters took the top prizes in their respective grade categories, as Sophia Connors won for grades K-1 and Gillian Connors won for grades 2-3.

“It was amazing to see the final spelling bees, and the words they were spelling,” Shutler said, adding that their fundraising efforts made the students feel empowered. “I wanted to teach them what they can accomplish if they work hard.”

While the money will undoubtedly be appreciated by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Shutler and Maroon said raising awareness about Parkinson’s disease was also a goal.

“People don’t realize how many locally have it,” Maroon commented. Students have learned about the disease, which is a degenerative brain disorder of the central nervous system. It has no known cause or cure, only treatment for symptoms. The school held a gray/silver t-shirt day recently for student awareness, as silver is the color for the Parkinson’s awareness ribbon. The Fox Foundation gave the school hats and bracelets for students to wear, and may be doing a blog on the website about the school’s efforts.

Preschool students were able to participate in a coloring contest, which was won by Carson VanDyne.