The week of March 12 was a time for the students at Leesville Road High School to collect non-perishable food items and personal hygiene items to send to troops in Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan.
Mrs. Engdahl’s second period class challenged both Mrs. Scioli’s and Mr. Davis’ second period classes to a competition. Mrs. Engdahl’s class must collect more items than Mrs. Scioli’s and Mr. Davis’ classes combined.
The various items are assigned different point values. For example, travel-size items are worth 1 point and larger items with higher prices have increasing point values.
While the challenge seems improbable, Mrs. Engdahl’s second period remains hopeful. The “winner” of this competition will be awarded with a class breakfast, probably from Bojangles.
Alex Schuler, senior, is in Mrs. Scioli’s second period class. The class wanted to challenge Mr. Davis’ second period class to see who could collect the most items for Treats for Troops. Schuler said, “Somehow, Mrs. Engdahl found out about the competition and challenged both classes. At first, I didn’t think we had any chance at winning. But after a few days, we started collecting more and more items and now we might have a chance.”
Brooks Jordan, senior, is also in Mrs. Scioli’s class. “I don’t think we had a chance at winning this thing, but that doesn’t mean we won’t keep donating.”
Erik Seigle, junior and student in Mr. Davis’ second period, explained to me how he didn’t think they had much of a chance at winning. “It was a good experience, collecting all the items for the troops was fun and we knew we were doing the right thing.”
Justin Palpant, senior, is a student in Mrs. Engdahl’s 2nd period class. He, along with Marisa McKay, senior, came up with a great idea to increase the amount of donations from the class.
“Weeknights are so busy, so we figured that not everyone would be able to go out and buy things to bring into class to donate. During class, we passed around an envelope and collected money from those who couldn’t go shopping. Then, I, and several students, took the money and went shopping after school. We met in the student parking lot, and from there we went to the dollar store and BJ’s,” said Palpant.
He said, “I thought this was a great experience for us as students to have. It was really cool how everyone put in the effort to donate their time and money for a good cause even when we are all so busy with school.”
Competing to gather hygiene and food items is not the point of Treats for Troops. While competing between classes is fun, the idea of the challenge is to encourage and promote students to donate items. Students feel more compelled to participate when a competition is present, especially when the winner of said competition is awarded with food.
Introducing a reward increases the probability of an event to occur; in this case, the event is the participation in donating items. Many people question the morality of this type of reinforcement; they think that teenagers only think of themselves. If that were the case, would students sacrifice their time and money to support the troops?
“We joke around with the other classes and make it a game to see who can collect the most points, but at the end of the day, we all know that this is for a really good cause. Even if we lose, it was all worth it,” said Schuler.
“I don’t really care if we win or lose because it’s about the troops. Any donations make a difference,” said Jordan.
The students in all three classes are well aware that this competition is not about them, but about the soldiers in Afghanistan who are serving this country. If competing for a prize helps drive the students to support them, so be it.
In the end, Mrs. Engdahl’s class pulled through and defeated Mrs. Scioli’s and Mr. Davis’ classes combined. The victory will result in a Bojangles breakfast for her 2nd period class.