At first, the Berg Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) thought it was only going to raise enough money for two middle schoolers, a seventh grader and an eighth grader, to attend a summer trip to the 2019 National Student Council Conference, but the group’s diligent fundraising efforts, coupled with a supportive community, has allowed all eight eligible student council members to take part in the Pennsylvania convention.
Matt Holmes, president of the Berg PTSA, announced in front of the student body Thursday during a lunch hour in the middle school cafeteria the organization raised $4,000, or about $500 for each student, for the Berg Middle School Student Council. Participating students will not pay a single cent in travel costs for the six-day outing beginning June 21.
“The only thing they’re going to have to pay for is any souvenirs or spending money they want out there,” Holmes said. “Their room, their board, their trip — everything is paid for.”
Members of the Berg PTSA presented enlarged, ceremonial checks to students. Holmes said these scholarships would not have been possible without the donations from local businesses like FNNB, Eye Care Center of Newton, Rybo’s Painting & Handyman Services, Rotary Club of Newton and IIS Insurance.
The Newton Daily News previously reported the Newton Community School District Board of Education authorized the conference trip for select Berg Middle School Student Council members and their respected chaperones in early April. Last year’s convention turned out to be a worthwhile learning experience, student council sponsor and Berg Middle School teacher Tyler Stewart said.
Holmes said the conference is going to teach participating students the leadership skills needed to come back to their school and make a difference in the classrooms and culture. Being involved in the student council, he added, encourages community volunteer efforts and teaches kids “a different perspective of responsibility and leadership.”
Sarah Muhs, vice president of the Berg PTSA, said, “The more active they are in their school, the prouder they are of their school and the better they’ll do in their classes. I think it just helps them become better people overall.”
Members of the Berg PTSA had been keeping the scholarships a secret for about a month. The organization had already committed to sending two students on the trip, but after looking through the applications and listening to eighth grader Marin Pettigrew’s speech to the school board during its April 8 meeting, Holmes decided more deserved a chance to go.
“We reached out to local businesses and were pleasantly surprised that we got the help, and now we’re able to send them for free,” Holmes said.
Muhs added, “The student council has also been a good partner for us. It’s been a beneficial, win-win relationship. We help them and they help us whenever we need extra volunteers for things. Our partnership has been growing over the last couple of years. And I only see it growing in the future.”
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org