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Willoughby-Eastlake high school students raise a record-breaking $32,000 for United Way of Lake County

Oct 04, 2016 10:13AM ● By Today's Family
On Friday, September 30, during halftime of the Willoughby South High School Rebels and Eastlake North High School Rangers rival football game, the students of the Willoughby-Eastlake high schools made history when Superintendent Steve Thompson announced the schools raised a combined total of over $32,000 for United Way of Lake County (UWLC).

As South and North high school battled it out on the football field to take home the win, students and fans anxiously awaited the announcement of each school’s fundraising results.  Each ran a variety of activities during the week leading up to the big game in a fierce competition to outdo one another and raise the most money for UWLC. As each high school celebrated spirit week, the big focus was on fundraising, and students took the role of helping their community seriously.

The schools worked the entire week to raise donations in support of the Lake County community with each school incorporating fundraising activities with their spirit week celebrations to keep the experience fun. Students and educators from each school planned a large variety of activities to raise donations. This included principals, teachers and administrators taking shaving cream pies in the face for hours from students during lunch periods;  the opportunity for students to jail their favorite, or not so favorite, educators; student participation in Olympic-themed games; student verse staff volleyball competitions; the sale of student prepared food including grilled cheese, French toast sticks, cotton candy and more.

Willoughby South High School set their fundraising goal at $20,170 which was strategically selected to match the seniors’ graduating year of 2017. The crowd roared when Steve Thompson announced they were thirteen cents over goal, raising $20,170.13. The students not only hit their goal, but raised significantly more than the record-breaking $15,000 they raised the previous year, which was double the amount Willoughby South High School students raised in September of 2014.

The students of Eastlake North High School set their sights on raising record breaking funds as well and went at it hard, raising a total of $12,250, a little more than double the $6,000 they raised in 2015 and over four times the $3,000 they raised in 2014.

“We kicked off our fundraising by showing our students the United Way video which explained the work they do for our community. The driving force behind our students’ enthusiasm for raising a large sum of money was the knowledge that contributions raised in Lake County stay in Lake County. Our students were inspired knowing they would be making a difference in the lives of their very own neighbors in need,” said North High School principal Eric Frei. “It’s imperative we teach our students the importance of helping others and giving back to their community,” he said.

Special education teacher, spirit club advisor and student council administrative leader Mallory Lane of North High School, cited UWLC’s new 2016 video as helping them engage their student body. Students really embraced the message of UWLC’s one-minute video. More than ever before, it helped students understand how donations work to help their community,” said Lane.

Lane, along with student council members Hana Steko, Emily Hepner, Kelly Wilson, Amanda Perkins and Leonarda Miletic led the charge by planning the fundraising activities resulting in the highest goal the school has ever attained.

Willoughby South High School principal Zachary Weagley has rarely been more proud. “The entire school community came together for the betterment of others,” said Weagley. “Here at the school, we talk a lot about the importance of paying it forward. The fundraiser allowed our students to see the big impact that can be made with focused effort.”

Erin Dodson, South High School teacher and head coach of Lady Rebel Softball, served as UWLC’s campaign administrator and worked with student campaign coordinators Lydia Abrams, Cami Swaney and Emily Woodcock, all seniors. “Community is a cornerstone of the Rebel Way. I am so very proud of the students at South for setting a goal and working together to achieve it,” said Dodson.

Student Emily Woodcock is grateful to Dodson, thanking her on her Facebook page for showing her what hard work and dedication can lead to. “Thank you for allowing me to be part of something special,” said Woodcock.

United Way of Lake County president and CEO Jennifer McCarty is fairly new to Lake County but quickly came to understand the intensity of the North South rivalry as she sat in attendance at Friday’s football game. While refusing to disclose which side of the stands she sat on, she could feel the excitement pulsating throughout the crowd. Upon announcement of the total amount raised by the Willoughby-Eastlake High Schools, McCarty exclaimed, “This is a great day for our community. The students, educators and administrators should be proud of the enormous impact their efforts will have on our community. United Way of Lake County fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in the community and we are beyond thrilled to have the students, educators and administrators of the Willoughby-Eastlake High Schools fighting for our community along side us!”

“While South High ultimately won the football game, both North and South made big wins for their community”, said UWLC marketing and communications director Tami Lewis.

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