Fourth-graders at Barrington Elementary School took part in an annual tradition that seeks to rally support against the "team up north" while raising money to fight breast cancer.

About 20 years ago, a student's quest to find a use for buckeyes he had collected led now-retired Barrington teacher Bonnie Emery to create the Buckeye Bonanza, a weeklong event to sell handmade buckeye crafts to support the Ohio State University's James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

The event coincides with "Beat Michigan" week, the seven days leading up to Ohio State's clash on the football field against the Wolverines, a game which the Buckeyes won 56-27 on Nov. 30.

The activities included fourth-graders selling their buckeye crafts to fellow students at Barrington, as well as a trip to the OSU campus to perform songs, sell crafts and pass out "lucky" buckeyes to students.

Over the years, the Buckeye Bonanza has raised more than $30,000 for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at The James.

"We don't have exact figures, but I am comfortable saying more than $30,000 in its time," said Katie Benton, a fourth-grade for Barrington's Informal Program. "Stefanie Spielman's children went to Barrington. She used to support the sale and assist us.

"It's always supported cancer research in some way."

The Buckeye Bonanza has become a staple of Informal Program and service-learning at the school.

In addition to raising money to fight breast cancer and teaching children about the importance of helping others, there are business elements in the project.

"Students learn about economics and how to run a business," Benton said. "They create prototypes for products and decide what to make. They work to prepare the items, as well as do marketing and advertising. They learn about the cause and the importance of supporting cancer research. It's an authentic whole-learning experience, which integrates many areas of the curriculum."

On Nov. 26, about 50 Barrington fourth-graders took a went to the Ohio Union on OSU's campus.

The field trip is a highlight of the Buckeye Bonanza and included performances by the students of "Carmen, Ohio" and "Hang On Sloopy" on musical instruments known as recorders while OSU students cheered.

From there, the students scoured the Union, inside and out, passing out buckeyes to OSU students and staff.

With each buckeye, the students also handed out cards that explained "the buckeye attracts good fortune."

"As it travels with you, it's something to fidget with when you are nervous or to squeeze if you have a bad day," the cards read.

As she passed out buckeyes, fourth-grader Kaitlyn Rucker said she "thought it was good" to perform the OSU-related songs in the Union. She explained her class learned the songs from music teacher Debbie Gibson, who directed the students' performance.

"We learned it in music, and our music teacher said we were going to come here and play it," Rucker said.

As for supporting the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research, Rucker said, "I think it's good."

Classmate Finley Salsberry said she enjoyed performing in front of OSU students, adding it was a challenge to learn the songs.

"It's kind of really hard to learn, and I really enjoyed it."

She added that the service portion of the Buckeye Bonanza particularly resonated with her.

"I think it's very helpful and loving for the people with breast cancer," she said.

Salsberry's comments were reflective of the lessons Benton said she hopes students take as part of the Buckeye Bonanza. She added that's why the tradition has been maintained.

"We hope kids learn the importance of serving and helping others and raising social conscientious while learning the required curriculum," she said.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate