The first-ever Snowman Shuffle breathed new life into an old event Saturday morning.
Junction City Middle School has held its pancake feed and vendor fair for many years as a fundraiser for its Renaissance program — which rewards students for good grades and good behavior.
But this year, parent Bridget VonSpreckelsen thought the fundraiser needed something more.
“We just thought it would be a fun family-type activity for people to come on out and participate in,” she said.
About 55 runners attended the 5K/fun run, which VonSpreckelsen believed was impacted by the warmer-than-usual weather.
“We had a lot of people register day-of and day before,” she said. “That helped a lot.”
The race itself, with help from registrants and sponsors, raised about $3,000 for the program, according to VonSpreckelsen. She doesn’t know how much the other aspects of the fundraiser brought in.
The entire event, she said, had a lot of help from students and JCMS faculty.
This included Ava Oentrich, an eighth grade student at JCMS who takes part in the Renaissance program. She both volunteered during the pancake feed and ran during the race.
“We just ran around the school property,” Oentrich said. “It’s pretty fun, because we don’t get to normally do that and we’re advocating for Renaissance.”
She was pleased to be able to raise money for the program and advocate for her school, she said.
“We get a lot of rewards from (Renaissance),” Oentrich said.
The program includes end-of-the-year trips and a Night of the Stars party for high-achieving students each school year to celebrate their accomplishments.
Parent and longtime volunteer Katie Miller said both of her children have taken part in the program, including her seventh grade daughter, Cassidy, who is still a participant.
“I think it gives the students a sense of pride,” Miller said. “They have to work hard to be part of the Renaissance program and they’re very proud when they earn their different levels of recognition. Especially at the end of the year when they have their Night of the Stars, which is their ending celebration. It’s for those students who have worked hard and excelled academically. Not all students are able to do it. I know mine have to work very hard in order to get into the program and make it through.”
For them, she said, it’s a “big goal.”
Miller said she was glad to see the community show up to support the students and their school. Community involvement has increased over the nine years she had volunteered within Unified Schoo District 475 schools.
Miller said she saw “just more community involvement — having activities that aren’t just specific to parents of students but then trying to do other things that bring in the entire community, which I really appreciate. It gets more opportunity for non-parents to engage with the schools, but then also for the schools to be able to reconnect back to the city as well.”