Pennies do matter – just ask Estes kids

Posted on by az100

By Shelley Shelton – Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Saturday, May 21, 2011 12:00 am

A Marana elementary school has landed in the state’s record books.

Of 118 schools and more than 68,000 students across the state, the 830 students at Estes Elementary collected the most pennies during the Arizona CENTennial penny drive to assist in refurbishing the Arizona Capitol copper dome.

Students collected $1,309.70 in pennies over the course of the semester.

They were rewarded Friday with a party put on by Bashas’. Guests included Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal, Funky Chicken from Hickman’s Family Farms and a copper-plated motorcycle known as the Centennial Copper Chopper that is considered the official mascot of the Arizona Centennial, which is Feb. 14, 2012.

“You are the champions!” Karen Churchard, director of the Arizona Centennial Commission, told the students. “You are now and forever a part of Arizona history.”

The money will go toward the cost of cleaning, resealing and brightening the Capitol dome. A total of $23,237.45 was collected statewide by students competing in the effort.

Students each received a cupcake from Bashas’ and a commemorative copper coin from Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold.

Funky Chicken and Bashas’ Bear led the students through a swinging rendition of the Chicken Dance before the assembly closed with the song “We Are the Champions.”

Fourth-grade teacher Rosa Islas said students were assigned specific classrooms to manage.

They collected the pennies and counted them, tracking everything in special folders.

It required a lot of math skills, said Breeanna Soto, 10, one of Islas’ students.

“You needed to count and sort (the pennies) and your fingers smelled like copper,” she said. “I’m really proud of my school for getting all kinds of pennies and actually winning.”

Classmate Andrew Miller, also 10, said the school was just trying to be the top penny collector in the county. “And we actually won the whole thing.”

The program included lesson plans on Arizona history, math, science and community service.

Principal Nancy Paddock said it was fun to see the teachers incorporate the penny drive into the state standards they are required to teach.

The fourth-graders were eager to participate because they had taken a field trip to the state Capitol, where they saw the copper dome, she said.

“They knew exactly what they were raising it for.”

Contact reporter Shelley Shelton at or 807-8464.

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