Phillips students raise lab funds

Students at Phillips Middle School not only love science, they’re willing to help pay for it.

After learning that science teacher Roseanne Gammello was paying for project kits out of her pocket, a group of students began a fundraiser to help pay for the costs.

In two weeks, they raised more than $600 to continue enjoying the labs.

“It was a surprise, that some of the students actually did. They just came up with it. It was their idea to do it,” Gammello said. “Because I buy a lot of the materials for class that we do. We don’t have that much of a budget for science at the middle school level, so every time we want to do anything fun or hands on, it comes out of my own pocket.”

The idea came about from an incident in class one day.

“We were doing a lab,” Gammello said. “I bought some stuff to actually use in class. I told them, please be respectful of the materials because I bought it and it has to be used for every single class period. They’re not free.”

A student made a comment then.

“He asked, you buy most of these things?” Gammello said. “I told them I did. And then he pulled out a $20 bill in class and said ‘I got $20 down on the next lab.’ I said, I’m not allowed to take your money.”

The student observed that teachers get money from fundraisers, though, and from that remark the science class students crafted an idea for a fundraiser and brought it to the school’s administrators. The in-school fundraiser was approved.

Fundraising activities included a balloon pop, selling locally donated cookies, “tickets” to a duet by Assistant Principal Mark Johnson and instructor Andy Kavanaugh, and the opportunity to decide if Johnson should shave his beard.

“They came up with this huge list of ideas,” Gammello said. “They got student input from all the kids on their team, and what they’d be willing to pay for if we did certain activities and things.”

Administrators brought up the fundraiser at a team meeting, Gammello said, already approved.

“It was this big surprise thing, so it was just really cool that they even did it, came up with the idea,” she said. “Of course, we supported it. We were able to do the activities and raise the money over the two week period.”

The funds raised will help to pay for one or two of the lab kits, Gammello said.

“Some of them are reusable, some aren’t. But sometimes the labs costs $250 and its enough material for, like, 25 kids,” she said. “So we’re going to have to buy stuff that we can actually do with $600 that all the students will be able to use. It’ll be enough for one really good one, or a couple that are reusable.”

Gammello said she was grateful for the effort.

“It’s not just for the money, but the fact that they like my class so much they actually went out to raise money for education,” she said. “Usually kids do fundraisers for team uniforms or to go on a field trip. But the fact that they got together to raise money for class, to do something academic in class, was really the good thing. As a teacher that’s what you want, is for your kids to have a love of learning, so they’ll carry that after you.”