"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing," Walt Disney said.
Not content to merely talk the talk, the principal, staff, students and families of Poland Union Elementary School have hit the ground running in 2012 with numerous service projects.
Kicking off what school Principal Mike Masucci said is Union's first-ever partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, beginning in January, the school began accepting monetary donations to be forwarded to the highly regarded foundation as well as ongoing in-school fundraisers.
Photo by Kathleen Palumbo, Town Crier correspondent
A recent Friday’s showing of “Air Bud” was made even more fun by the inclusion of popcorn provided by the first-grade classes of Union Elementary School. Sold for a quarter, the efforts were just one of many ongoing fundraisers under way as part of the school’s partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Pictured are, in back, Lorelei Ogden, Emily Beal, and Emma Mayle, and in front, Elizabeth Harger, Morgan Bailey, and Dominic Pagan with some of the signs they used to market their popcorn sale.
With a long-term goal of $6,000 by the end of May to adopt the wish of a child suffering with a serious illness, Masucci is proud to announce that Union's efforts are already showing great success.
No stranger to the heartfelt experience of a partnership with Make-A-Wish, Masucci shared the experience with his students twice during his tenure at North Elementary School, and said he recalls that everyone there was affected.
"Poland Union Elementary School's partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation will teach our students a lot. They will learn the true meaning of teamwork, be driven to accomplish goals, realize the importance of serving the community and respecting and accepting the differences in others," said Masucci, who added that while those are goals not necessarily reflected on report cards, they "will be used when referring to our students."
In other news, Masucci shared his excitement in that Poland Union Elementary School was one of only 20 Ohio schools to win the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Get Active, Get Fit School Challenge, sponsored by Radio Disney.
Through the program, students were encouraged to be physically active for a minimum of 20 minutes a day from Oct. 3 to Nov. 26. According to Masucci, results were charted and submitted to Radio Disney, and due to the high percentage of its participants, Union Elementary was selected as a grand prize winner.
Grand prize will arrive in the form of a Radio Disney Dance Party to be held at the school in February. In addition, the school will receive a deluxe activity kit of athletic equipment including basketballs, bean bags, jump ropes, cones, and hoops.
"I am very proud of our students and families for recognizing how important it is to be physically active, said Masucci.
Last, but certainly not least, although early into 2012, Union Elementary has yet one more trick up its sleeve. In March, several members of the Pittsburgh Steelers will pay a visit for a friendly basketball game, in which they will take on Masucci, teachers, and other leaders of the community.
The event offers continuing fundraising possibilities, and Masucci said the Steelers have agreed to sign autographs at halftime, in addition to which he has been guaranteed that his opponents will be bigger and in better shape than he is.
Masucci makes no secret of his affinity for Walt Disney World and the large part it plays in his life and that of his family. It seems only fitting then, that his incorporation of Disney's endless opportunities to champion a cause into the lives of his students appears to be transforming Union Elementary School into his own little Magic Kingdom.
A partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a Radio Disney Dance Party reward, and a visit from the Steelers that may assist in additional fundraising needs is all big news for Union, its principal, staff, students, and family members.
And in the words of Disney himself, "I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing -- that it was all started by a mouse."