Upper Arlington News

Barrington's 'Buckeye Bonanza' a fond tradition

One student's inquiry from 15 years ago sparks caring and creativity

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Barrington Elementary School students (from left) Parker McGinty, Casey Dounian, Greta Lenhart, Sydney Clowdus and Audrey Szollosi work on some of the products that were sold as part of the "Buckeye Bonanza" this fall.
By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Barrington Elementary School students showed their "Buckeye" side and raised nearly $5,000 for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research.

Third- and fourth-grade students in Barrington's Informal Program began the "Buckeye Bonanza" project by making items out of buckeyes in mid-October. They made necklaces, magnets, ornaments, jar candles and other items from the nuts and also made knitted scarves, hats, headbands and bracelets in scarlet and gray.

The students sold the items in the lunchroom at school and at the Ohio Union in late November, during "Beat Michigan Week" at Ohio State University.

The project culminated just before winter break Dec. 17, when the students handed Chris Spielman a check for $4,881.89 to give to the patient assistance account, a part of the Stefanie Spielman Fund.

The teachers involved were Katie Benton, Betsy O'Brochta and Kelli Wilcox. They received a little help from Upper Arlington High School art teacher Alicia McGinty, who has a son in Benton's class.

McGinty and her son made fused glass pendants with buckeye themes -- a very popular item for the fundraiser, Benton said.

Benton said Spielman asked the students if he could give the large check to the patient assistance fund.

"Mr. Spielman told the kids Stefanie was really passionate about this particular fund, because it helps families of cancer patients buy groceries, pay for transportation, or even provides gifts or food during the holidays," Benton said. "We asked the kids and they put it to a vote, then decided they wanted all the money to go to that fund."

"Buckeye Bonanza" started at Barrington more than 15 years ago when a student asked teacher Bonnie Emery what she thought he could do with a bunch of buckeyes he'd collected.

"A kid in that class had a parent that worked for OSU and said the class could make buckeye necklaces and sell them on campus," Benton said. "The tradition has continued ever since and we started making a lot of different items and calling it 'Buckeye Bonanza.'"

She said third-graders were included this year for the first time.

The only problem this year was a weather-related scarcity of buckeyes.

"We told the parents we needed the buckeyes and put out an all points bulletin on social media," she said. "We had people sending us buckeyes from many other parts of the country, so we definitely could not have raised these funds without lots of help from friends and family members."

Benton said the students created their own company, learning to develop ideas, create products and deal with quality assurance, pricing, publicity and advertising.

"The students made samples of their ideas and figured out how much labor they would take and how much each would cost to produce," she said. "They also had to come up with a product line, since not all the ideas made it to production."

She said the project helped students learn factors of production and starting a business, such as supply and demand, opportunity costs and scarcity.

"The kids applied for jobs within our company, filling out traditional job applications, even providing references," she said.

She said students became production managers, were part of a sales team, took inventory and had jobs in marketing, advertising and publicity.

"Every job or every committee had a different responsibility," she said.

Benton said the production and business lessons are a part of Barrington's social studies curriculum, which follows Ohio's Fourth Grade Social Studies Academic Content Standards.

"The handmade crafts were remarkably professional-looking," she said.

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