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Making a difference

by Brian Walker
| April 24, 2010 9:00 PM

SPIRIT LAKE - Timberlake High students could call their principal Kurt Hoffman "trash" on Friday afternoon and get away with it.

That's because he was dressed like it - literally, but on purpose.

Hoffman lived up to his end of the deal during the school's "You Can Make a Difference" event, wearing trash attached to his coveralls, after his group of students didn't muster as many aluminum cans as assistant principal Chris McDougall's did.

"Whoever collected the most aluminum cans would be Mr. Clean and whoever had the least would be Mr. Trash," said Hoffman, adding that he represented the seniors and sophomores.

A good sport, Hoffman muddled around the infield of Van Tuinstra Memorial Field visiting with students and participants in the fundraiser for the school's outdoor activity area that also promoted recycling, healthy lifestyles and conservation.

"It's definitely a different feeling, but for a great cause," he said of wearing his outfit.

The second annual event raised about $1,300 and generated 9,000 cans that were used to build a pyramid at the event. The school topped its goal of surpassing last year's total of $1,200.

The money will be spent toward the school's outdoor activity area. Benches were purchased last year and students are hoping for an outdoor beach volleyball court estimated to cost about $4,000.

For $15, students had access to the event, which included games and educational activities that centered on recycling and reusing.

"All the money comes back to the school," said Katie Marsan, co-president of Club PEACE (People Everywhere Are Create Equal), among the student groups that organized the event.

Marsan said the sunny afternoon made for a nice way for students to cut loose from school and celebrate Earth Day themes.

"Every year since we started we've had bad weather so it's nice to have the whole track and field this year," she said. "Most of the students wanted to get out of class, see their friends and hang out."

Some students bounced between games, which ranged from creating Earth art with rocks, moss and twigs to one with a cleaning the ocean theme.

Some chased "The Green Thing" student on the infield during certain songs to earn a prize.

Others simply walked around the track, soaking in the pleasant weather.

The event was formerly called Walk for Peace, a fundraiser for the Human Rights Institute before it mushroomed into the broader "You Can Make a Difference" school fundraiser last year.

Jacqui Doran, a speech teacher and the Club PEACE advisor, said the intent is to make the event bigger each year with community and business involvement.

"It's a way for the students to give back and be a part of the community," she said.

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