EPHRATA — It sounded kind of easy, really. It looked easy, even. Just a little obstacle course around the Ephrata High School gym. Considering other situations teachers have faced when nominated as the “winners” in the culminating Toys for Teens challenge, it looked simple.
Yeah, well. At the end neither EHS counselor Jay Mills nor art teacher Tobin Springs got sick. Although Mills was kind of hoping – it would’ve made a great picture, he said.
Ephrata students wanted to raise at least $4,000 for Toys for Teens 2017. “We totally met our goal,” said ASB officer Madeline Williams, and then some.
Toys for Teens is a pre-Christmas tradition at EHS. Students spend about two weeks raising money used to buy teen-targeted presents that are donated to the Ephrata Food Bank Christmas basket program. Traditionally there’s a contest and a prize, and traditionally the prize involves teachers doing something that might be considered beneath the dignity of teachers.
“Last time I did it, it was a dunk tank outside,” Springs said. At least it was inside in 2017, he said – and how hard could it be, a little obstacle course?
OK, about that. Mills and Springs were required to spin around 10 times – and EHS students kept count – run (or stumble) to the other end of the gym, while riding a stick horse, pick up a stack of presents, jump over a series of obstacles. From there they had to tie on an apron while wearing oven mitts, eat a whipped cream “pie” and find a piece of gum buried in the cream. “I’m eating blobs (of whipped cream) off the table to find the gum,” Springs said. They were supposed to blow a bubble with the gum, but the kids took pity on them and didn’t insist on that.
The third-period class that wins the contest picks the “winning” teachers. “I don’t know if it’s a way to get back at me,” Mills said. The contestants didn’t get the details, but “I think there’s some eating,” Mills added. He was confident that would put him over the top.
“This was warmer,” Springs said. Even with a face full of whipped cream it was preferable to a dunk tank on a sunny-but-freezing day. And they didn’t have to kiss a farm animal, which has happened in the past. Or dance in front of the whole school. Or sing in front of whole school. Teachers have had to do both. “I told them I wouldn’t do it if it was dancing or singing,” Springs said; in his opinion he’s not that good at either one.
The Toys for Teens fundraiser grew out of a common dilemma – very few adults know what constitutes a cool gift for teens. The EHS students, having a little more information about what teens like, volunteered to raise the money and buy gifts for their fellow teens. Toys for Teens has been the EHS project for about a decade.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.