Dublin Villager

Olde Sawmill Elementary School

Students to interview groups that might reap Penny Harvest proceeds

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

A group of Olde Sawmill Elementary School students will soon get interview experience, but they'll be the ones asking the questions.

With fundraising completed, Olde Sawmill students will next research nonprofit organizations that will benefit from the annual Penny Harvest.

"Penny Harvest is a yearlong service project we do," said Ashima Srivastava, a fifth-grader at the school.

"We bring in change and then do the research phase to find out what nonprofits to give the money to."

Olde Sawmill Elementary is in its third year of conducting the Penny Harvest and raised about $5,000 in the first two years, said Anutam Srinivasan, student leader.

"Every penny counts," said Janet DiSilvestro, an Olde Sawmill teacher and Penny Harvest leader.

Each grade has a few student leaders in the Penny Harvest and they all know the history behind the annual effort.

According to fifth-grader Bella Nichols, a young girl gave a homeless man $1 dollar on her way to school each day.

"She realized it wasn't enough and started See Kids Dream," DiSilvestro said.

"The premise is it doesn't matter how old you are, you can make a difference in your community."

So far the Penny Harvest at Olde Sawmill has helped the Cozy Cat Cottage, Kids N Kamp and the Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

"Classes voted on issues like cancer, animal shelters, drugs and Down syndrome," Gavin Smith said.

Student leaders will soon begin this year's interview process and invite nonprofits to the school for a little Q&A on financial information and mission.

Once the interview is complete, students make a presentation about each organization and vie for votes with the roundtable portion of Penny Harvest.

"The kids grill these organizations," DiSilvestro said.

"They have criteria on how much money goes to the cause and how much goes to administrative costs."

Students vote on organizations for the Power of the Penny portion of the project and the top vote-getters receive a check from the school at a spring assembly.

"I like seeing all the organizations and what they have to say," Srivastava said of the experience.

"I really enjoy working with everyone," Srinivasan said.

Whereas the Penny Harvest teaches students about being compassionate and helping others, it also fits into the curriculum.

"All of this is real-life stuff," DiSilvestro said.

"The kids keep a record of the money raised by week. They collect data and do charts ... . For the round table you really get into language arts.

"You have to know how to make professional phone calls. Students learn how to interview ... . They have to make a persuasive argument."

Creative writing and math also fall into Penny Harvest work.

"It's all part of the core standards," DiSilvestro said.

"It can easily be aligned to the common core."

But the Penny Harvest isn't all about work.

Students enjoy making posters and advertisements to get their friends involved.

"We come up with a song for Penny Harvest," Smith said.

Last year students used Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror to communicate the message of Penny Harvest.

This year students used their own catchy version of What does the Fox Say? to garner change.