Let me count the ways

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 23, 2010



LAPLACE – Although it is annually marked by various school activities, this year’s celebration of the 100th day of school took on a larger meaning for students at Laplace Elementary School.

As a challenge from teachers and Principal Allison Cupit, the students came together to see how many hundreds of quarters could be collected in one week. The end result would be donated to the St. John Sheriff’s Office “Kids for Kops” program, which pays for bulletproof vests for sheriff’s deputies.

“Our kids have far surpassed anything we could have imagined,” said LaPlace Elementary first grade teacher Kristina Miller. “Our kids really came together for this.”

Miller said the final tally from the students came to $1,350, which equals about 5,400 quarters. She said before the contest reached full momentum, Kids for Kops Director Paula Wilking, the mother of the program’s original founder Stephanie “Nikki” Wilking, said she would put up $500 to match what the kids brought in. Wilking said she was not expecting the extreme level of response.

“This is what keeps my family going,” Wilking said. “They went way over the top. I never expected this much. It feels really good.”

Wilking and her daughter Ashley continue to run “Kids for Kops” in memory of Wilking’s late daughter Stephanie. She said Stephanie started the fundraiser after she won $200 in a school contest and wanted to donate the money to the St. John Sheriff’s Office. Wilking said Stephanie succumbed to a rare sickness in 2001.

“Just when you think people are starting to forget, something like this happens,” said Wilking. “I’m really proud of these kids.”

In addition to the $500 match, the Wilkings added another $151 to bring the grand total donation to $2,001 — to mark the year Stephanie passed away.

St. John Sheriff Wayne Jones said the money raised would help the Sheriff’s Office purchase about five vests for incoming officers.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” Jones said. “We have new officers coming on board that are going to need vests. I think it is outstanding for these young kids to carry on what Nikki started.”

In addition to the quarter collection, other events to mark the 100th day included a schoolwide bulletin board contest and a penny collection to go toward victims of the Hati earthquake.