“It was an amazing night,” said Shawna Borba, an eighth-grade teacher at Bristow. “The kids had a blast and the Thunder players were so cool. It was something they’ll never forget.”
Looking for a creative way to fundraise in the wake of the state’s education budget cuts, Borba and other Bristow supporters approached the AA hockey team late last year about the organization’s Hockey for Kids program. The program, in which students get to play with the professionals, sell tickets to Thunder games for fundraising, and have an opportunity to meet the players, seemed like a win-win for everyone.
“With the budget on everyone’s mind, we wanted to see if there was something we could do to help them (Bristow) raise a little money and offer the students something fun,” said Jessica Fillo, manager of game and team operations for the Stockton Thunder. “So we met with the school and came up with the reading competition, and it turned out to be a great thing.”
The goal of the competition was to challenge students to read as much as they could in one month’s time. Through Accelerated Reading, students choose from an index of more than 120,000 titles, read the book and then take an online test. The beauty of the program, said Borba, is it’s all electronically tracked, which keeps the program organized – and honest.
“The really cool thing about this program is that it keeps track of everything for me,” said Borba. “So there are no questions about the honesty part. To make it fair, the winners would be the top six readers from each grade level, for a total of 18 kids. All the eighth-graders scored well over 100 points, and we had one seventh-grader score over 400 points. They really took it to a whole new level.”
And on April 13 the payoff came in the form of hockey sticks, autographed jerseys and a spirited game of floor hockey. The students played against seven of the Thunder players, including star center Oren Eizenman, and won the game 13 to 12.
Students also raised approximately $800 from the event, which will go toward the Accelerated Reading Program. “The kids had such a great time,” said Borba. “These players gave up a lot of their time and we really appreciated it. It was nice for the students to meet the players, see and hear them talk about and promote reading and education. They talked about the importance of college and careers to explore.
“We’re hoping they’ll come back again next year; it was a huge success.”