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100th Day combines service, learning, Valentines

Austin Colvin, Shaelyn Boessen and Kyla Dawson build their 100th Day of School Trail Mix by counting 10 pieces of 10 snack items into their baggies Thursday.

Austin Colvin, Shaelyn Boessen and Kyla Dawson build their 100th Day of School Trail Mix by counting 10 pieces of 10 snack items into their baggies Thursday. Photo by Michelle Brooks.

In the midst of celebrating at Eugene Elementary School, soldiers and those in need were remembered, too.

Inclement weather pushed back the 100th Day of School to Thursday, which also included the annual Valentine’s Day parties.

Teachers like Ashley Garber knew it would be a crazy day. And yet, learning continued.

With activities like building their 100 Day of School trail mix by counting 10 pieces of 10 different snacks into their resealable baggies, first-graders counted to 100 several times over.

A circuit of other games included stacking 100 cups, a gumball machine with 100 gumballs and creating with 100 pattern blocks.

Eugene classes have been celebrating the 100th Day of School for several years. Librarian Gayle Skaggs helped teachers extend the celebration beyond their classrooms.

Lining the hallways were 100 “awesome” things about their school, such as “We say the Pledge of Allegiance,” “We like to achieve our goals,” and “We get to have two recesses.”

Above the intersection of the main hallways hang more than 435 pairs of socks. The goal was to collect 100 pairs for the Samaritan Center.

Not only are there black and white socks, large and small, but students shared their personalities, too, with patterns and pictures.

“The goal for the day is to get our students to think outside themselves – focusing on our school, our community, and our country,” Skaggs said in a letter to teachers.

Third-graders in Linda Propst’s classroom also practiced their new letter-writing skills by sending notes to service member through Operation Gratitude.

The third-grade curriculum introduces cursive writing, which several of the students chose to use in their final draft, Propst said. And letter-writing often is part of the upcoming MAP test.

“It helps to give them something purposeful,” Propst said. “It makes it meaningful to them when it’s a ‘real’ letter.”

This is not the first time for Emma Forrester and her classmates to write letters to service members. When her father was deployed, she and her friends and family frequently mailed letters overseas, she said.

“It’s special, an honor, to write to a soldier, even though it’s hard,” said classmate Garrett Hogard.

Another six soldiers, these with ties to the Eugene community, also received cards and goodies in time for Valentine’s Day, this time from first-graders.

Young as they are, the primary students grasped the value of saying “thank you,” Tiffany Forrester said.

“Kids always surprise you with what they put down on paper,” she said.

Forrester received a note from the unit acknowledging receipt of the 60-plus valentine’s and a thank you letter is in the mail.

Forrester said she is eager to share the response from Afghanistan with the students.

One package remains on a classroom shelf. They hope to present it in person to Jimmy Kliethermes, the father of a senior, who is on his way home.

Shipping costs were supported by community donations to the Veterans Appreciation Breakfast in November, as well as the Parent Teacher Organization.

“We look forward to the day we don’t have to send boxes,” Forrester said. “But while we have people from this district deployed, we will continue.”

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