Kids collect pennies to clean Capitol dome

Posted on by az100

by Eugene Scott – Feb. 9, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Thousands of schoolchildren are getting involved in the Arizona CENTennial Penny Drive, which kicks off today, to raise at least $45,000 to clean the state Capitol copper dome.

“Copper should be cleaned every five years, 10 years max. The Capitol dome hasn’t been cleaned in over 15 years,” said Karen Churchard, director of the Arizona Centennial Commission. “If you don’t keep it cleaned and sealed on a structured basis, it will usually patina and turn green.”

The drive could involve thousands of Arizona students in kindergarten through eighth grade as they raise the copper coins while learning about Arizona’s past 100 years.

“We basically challenged each student to raise 100 pennies,” Churchard said.

A cleaning with a five-year guarantee will cost $45,000. The price with a 10-year guarantee is $65,000.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation and The Arizona Republic are sponsoring the penny drive. If it brings in a significant amount of pennies, organizers will create an endowment that will allow for the regular cleaning of the dome.

The 48-day drive, in honor of Arizona being the 48th state added to the union, is the Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation’s statewide children’s legacy project and will end on April 11. The Centennial Commission chose Feb. 9 as the kickoff date because on that day in 1911, voters in the Arizona Territory approved a new state constitution.

“We see the Capitol building from our school,” said Jessica Erdie, a third-grade teacher at Capitol Elementary. “So for the kids to be able to see it every day and be a part of (the centennial celebration) teaches them a valuable lesson. They’re being able to give back.”

Teachers can maximize their participation in the drive by deepening their study of Arizona history, Erdie said. Capitol Elementary teachers have discussed ways to expand the Arizona CENTennial Penny Drive beyond a fundraiser.

“We were talking about possibly researching currency, the government and coins. Learning how money is made and why it’s important,” she said.

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