Centerville • The smell of cotton candy, pop corn, pizza and hot dogs set the background for Stewart Elementary school's Tech Trek. Kids played carnival games: bean bag toss, angry bird throw, classic fish pond and a life-size chess game entertained big kids and toddlers alike. A silent auction was held in the gym, but the main event was the trek.
For 13 years students attending Stewart elementary have walked in September to raise funds for technology equipment for the school.
"We raise money for technology since public education is not funded properly. If we did not do the Tech Trek, we'd have nothing but a computer on the teacher's desk and one computer lab in the school," explained Principal Vonzaa Hewitt.
The school has raised between $13,000 and $15,000 per year. With this money, the school has purchased wireless network hubs, laptops, projectors, document cameras, iPads and entire computer labs. This year, the Trek raised less than in years past with a total of around $10,000.
"I truly believe this technology improves teacher's instruction and student learning," Hewitt said.
The technology equipment purchased through the Tech Trek allows teachers do some impressive presentations in the classroom.
"If you can think of something you want to do in a classroom there is probably an app for it," Hewitt said.
While there is definitely a fun side to the technology, what the school faculty appreciate most is the important learning opportunities it provides.
The Teck Trech is planned each year by a community council. Every classroom puts together a basket for the silent auction. The classrooms choose the theme for the baskets and students bring in items to fill the baskets. Some classrooms designed and made their own quilts to auction off. Themes included food, baby items, sports, books and toys.
The real effort by students is the walking. Students make a goal for the number of laps they will run or walk on the track behind the school. Family and friends pledge to donate money for each lap completed. Some students walked, others ran and still others were wheeled in chairs.
For first-grader Nate Hansen, 6, his goal: "I'm going to get to ten" he said.
Fifth-grader Cory Dover, 11, a veteran participating in the trek for the sixth year, set a goal of 50 laps. Dover looks forward to the event every year.
"I've been doing it since kindergarten. It's a great way to get your exercise, and it's a whole lot of fun," he said.
The trek wouldn't be possible without the support of the community and parents. Many businesses and individuals in the community donate to the cause. Parents donate their time and talents. On the day of the trek alone, there were 100 parents donating more than 140 hours of their time.
Misti Christensen, mother of two Stewart students, chairs the volunteer committee. Christensen can't even begin to guess the number of hours put into the activity by committee members, but she is happy to give her time to the cause.
"I like to be involved in the community and my children's education," she said. "Whatever my kids are involved in, I want to be part of."