Fundraiser gains Ellis MS state award

Published 5:29 pm Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ellis Middle School recently earned a 2012 Minnesota State Promising Practices award for the studen’t’s idea of the “Books for Babies” fundraiser. - Herald file photo

Ellis Middle School students are getting some big recognition for a small idea.

The Ellis Middle School student-driven book drive for newborn children grew to help many in the community. The “Books for Babies” fundraiser earned Ellis a 2012 Minnesota State Promising Practices award, and now Ellis is a Character Education Partnership 2012 National and International Promising Practices in Character Education school.

“It’s just kind of unbelievable,” said Ellis teacher Jennifer Gosha. “It’s very humbling. It’s very exciting for the kids and the recognition that they and we are receiving.”

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Gosha is one of the advisers of Ellis’s Culture Club, which spearheaded the fundraiser to collect enough books so Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin staff could give every newborn baby a book to take home for one year.

The drive, which lasted from mid-January to early March, collected more than 2,400 books. Students gave more than 1,200 books to medical center staff, enough for the next two years.

Several students received special recognition Thursday at the state Capitol during a ceremony where Gov. Mark Dayton honored nine Minnesota schools including Ellis. Of those nine, Ellis and two other schools will be recognized at the CEP’s 19th National Forum on Character Education, which takes place Nov. 1-3 in Washington, D.C.

Though Gosha doesn’t know whether Ellis officials plan to attend, she said the attention brought to Ellis students helps reinforce the lessons they learned collecting books for others.

“It’s very powerful,” she said. “It’s empowering for them. It builds a lot of character when you accomplish something, because you feel like you can accomplish more.”