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Burton Elementary Challenge Raises $30,000 for Outdoor Classroom in Honor of Late Teacher

Students, families, teachers and neighbors chipped in during the last month to raise money for an outdoor park in memory of first grade teacher Maureen Simon, who died last year.

students have rallied together to raise more than $30,000 for a special memorial to be built.

As , the students did their part to raise funds to build an outdoor classroom in honor of .

“Everyone was so passionate about this memorial campaign, innovating fundraising ideas and motivating each other to reach the target,” Maribeth Krehbiel, principal of Burton Elementary School, said in the press release.

“Maureen’s unexpected passing hit our school community very hard. The outdoor classroom project has proven a healthy way to help cope with our loss.”

Simon taught at Burton for more than 30 years and with the funds students raised in the Classroom Challenge, she will have an outdoor classroom named in her honor in the new park.

“Mrs. Simon had a deep appreciation for nature and inspired hundreds of children during her career to appreciate and learn from nature,” said Lauren Hirsch, chairman of Friends of Burton Community Park.

“Thanks to the ingenuity of Burton kids, and the generosity of their families and neighbors, Mrs. Simon will continue to inspire generations to come through the gift of this outdoor classroom.”

Teachers also did their part to help raise the money, including by offering fun incentives to kids, like dyeing their hair, additional recess time and pizza parties.

The outdoor classroom will be just one of the features planned in the new park, which will include upgraded safety features, handicap accessibility, more green space, some of the latest play structures and new benches.

The Friends of Burton Community Park group hopes to raise the $500,000 needed by February 2013, with plans to see the first shovel hit the ground in June 2013. Committee member Susan Witus acknowledged the steep goal during their presentation to City Council in April, but said it was “good old-fashioned community organization that would be their key to success.

“I’m happy to be part of a generation working to build for the younger generation,” she said, adding that ventures ranging from online fundraising to the Burton Classroom Challenge to simple lemonade stands set up by local children would all count towards rebuilding the park.  

So far, the Classroom Challenge has given the campaign its largest donation, in addition to the fundraising website set up and donations made in person.

To celebrate their success, the students of Burton will have a dance and pizza party on June 13, the last day of school. 

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