Parks students celebrate Relay Recess
by Rory Doyle
Apr 29, 2013 | 2210 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Parks Elementary School has teamed up again to raise significant funds for the Bolivar County Relay for Life and American Cancer Society.

As of Friday afternoon, the Parks student body had collected over $3,100 in just two weeks, with some minor contributions coming from teachers.

The money was raised through pledge envelopes that the children used to canvass support.

The achievement puts them well over the top of their fundraising goal of $3,000, and the total will continue to increase once teacher donations and online funds are added up.

Parks was the only school in the Cleveland School District to host Relay Recess on Friday, an event-packed celebration that was awarded to K-5 students who helped raise at least $10 for the campaign.

Participants walked around the school's playground to commemorate cancer victims and survivors in the same style as the official Relay event, which will be held June 7 at the Cleveland High School track.

Several cancer survivors opened the celebration with a symbolic torch walk around the playground led principal Mary Anderson.

"I'm very proud of our students coming together in just two weeks and raising a significant amount of money," said Anderson. "It's a good feeling to know that our students are willing to contribute to the cause."

As a reward, students were given an extended recess, which included inflatable jumpies, a dance station, fitness station, playground station and fun obstacle courses.

"It's sort of like a mini Relay for Life," said teacher Heidi Barbian, who also leads the platform for the school.

The idea for Relay Recess was discussed at Relay for Life Planning meetings, and Parks managed their event in effort to boost fundraising participation from its students.

Barbian said Parks has raised the most money amongst district schools for the last two years and was proud the school's effort continues to grow.

"The students have done a great job and I'm overwhelmed with what they've accomplished," said Barbian. "In the past the teachers were the biggest contributors and this year we wanted to get the kids more involved.

"When they are involved they are aware."

Cindy Cocilova, a breast cancer survivor for five years, said she was honored to walk with the children and pay tribute. Her great nephew, a Parks student, also took part in the affair.

"Events like this allow me to rejoice that I am a survivor," said Cocilova. "It's a big accomplishment for the kids to take part first hand.

Cleveland School District Assistant Superintendent Brenda Ellis said Parks should be commended for their continued success.

"I hope other schools in the district will learn from Parks and see how to establish a Relay Recess," said Ellis. "All the schools had the opportunity to set it up, but thanks to the work of Heidi Barbian, Parks made it happen.

"They've been a model school and it's good to see the children get a positive rap."

Third-grader Kayla Howard was one of the highest-raising students with over $230, and said the event was special for her and those associated with cancer.

"I'm thinking about how our money will save their lives and help them out a lot," said Howard. "I'm thinking about them and how they feel."

Teachers were also prepared with lesson plans Friday to discuss the topics of sun protection, physical fitness, tobacco avoidance and healthy eating.

Relay for Life teams across the county, both school and non-school related, have until June 4 to collect money before the local bank night, but fundraising is recommended all the way up until the last day of 2013.

To learn more about Bolivar County Relay For Life, visit the Facebook page at

Learn more about the organization behind the movement at