M-CHS students raise $900 for nonprofit Piņon Project

School spirit competition also intended to help families during the holidays

The Tangerine Dream Team celebrates its victory in the Montezuma-Cortez High School commons area with a doughnut party. Enlargephoto

Chelsea Rodriguez/Montezuma-Cortez High School

The Tangerine Dream Team celebrates its victory in the Montezuma-Cortez High School commons area with a doughnut party.

Montezuma-Cortez High School students in the Panther Cup Program, a school spirit and community outreach initiative, spent the last two weeks of the semester raising $900 in change for the Piñon Project, a local nonprofit.

“It went so much better than I could have ever hoped,” said Chelsea Rodriguez, social studies teacher and head of the Panther Cup Program. “I knew our students would enjoy the competition, but they really went above and beyond. I want to thank them for all their hard work in collecting the change, and I thank First National Bank of Cortez for helping us get all the money counted.”

The Panther Cup Program, also run by English teacher Kim Allen, divides the student body into six teams that compete for kudo points throughout the year in academic challenges, community service and pep rally competitions. The change drive provided an opportunity to support Montezuma County and boost their team scores in the yearlong contest.

In the competition, pennies counted for positive points, and silver-colored coins such as nickels, dimes, and quarters counted as negative points. The objective was to collect the most pennies for your team and sabotage the other teams with silver change. The team with the highest score at the end of the competition would be crowned the winner. Students enjoyed sabotaging opposing teams by dropping quarters, nickels and dimes into their competitors’ collection bins.

Senior Kaeleen Boggs, of the Silver Bullets team, like the idea of sabotage. “It made us have more money ... and with people sabotaging us, it really got people into (the competition),” she said.

Silver Bullets and White Lightning, the two teams that are leading yearlong competition, were both sabotaged heavily by their classmates. Despite raising more than a third of the total $900 raised, including $126 in pennies, White Lightning placed fifth after being sabotaged by more than $150. The Silver Bullets overcame $100 worth of sabotage with a late surge of pennies to collect $180 and snag third after being in last place at the halfway point.

Tangerine Dream Team would end up the victors after playing a strategic game of sabotage and flying under the radar. They earned themselves a large sum of Panther Cup points and a doughnut party for their efforts, raising $105.

“We were able to sneak in and steal the win from everyone,” said sophomore Louis Gonzales. “They never saw it coming!”

Students volunteering on the Panther Cup Committee chose to donate the money to The Piñon Project, hoping the donation will help with the Christmas for Kids program, family support and early education. Students felt it was time to give back to an organization that has supported M-CHS and Montezuma County for the past two decades.

The Piñon Project was grateful for the donation, saying that it “is going to help a lot of people.”

Although Tangerine Dream Team might have walked away with the title, the competition was a win for all students, and they’re already looking forward to next year’s competition.

“We raised change for a better future,” said junior Taylor Willbanks, of White Lightning.

Chelsea Rodriguez, a social studies teacher at Montezuma-Cortez High School, submitted this article.