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East Middle School students practice math to help fight childhood cancer

East Middle School St. Jude Fundraiser
East Middle School students practice math to help fight childhood cancer
Posted at 10:04 AM, May 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 12:05:27-04

GREAT FALLS — East Middle School students are gearing up for summer vacation. Before they depart, the "Impact Team," an 8th-grade honors math class, is reviewing what they learned this year.

The spring review didn't come in traditional fashion. The class tackled a St. Jude Children's Research Hospital program that is raising money to fight childhood cancer.

"It gets them moving and it finds new ways for them to review what they learned this year," explained Kim Kumm, an 8th-grade math teacher at East.

Mrs. Kumm's honors math class lived up to its name — creating an "impact" on families and children in need.

"We participated in a Math-a-thon," said Maren Marshall, an 8th-grade honors math student.

The curriculum of the "Math-a-hon" comes directly from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It outlines problems the students would have learned in the last year.

Mrs. Kumm and her class decided to put a twist on their yearly review, in what they call a "Money War."

"We raised $3,529.58," added Elizabeth Baker.

The "Money War" was set up in friendly, boys versus girls fashion. The class set an initial $700 target goal — unsure if they could reach it. Low and behold the goal exceeded their expectations and the class had to set the bar higher numerous times.

East Middle School students practice math to help fight childhood cancer
East Middle School students practice math to help fight childhood cancer

“We got donations from people inside the school outside the school and just raised as much money as we can for the problems we did," explained Baker.

Mrs. Kumm put ice cream on the line for each team — and it was the boys who ultimately lost.

"It hurts the pride a little bit." Brently Bokma said. “I think the girls underestimated how hard we would try and how much effort we would put in to winning. But it’s all a win, helping other people.”

The spirit of giving motivated the two teams to push for more, while meeting the patients and hearing their stories along the way.

“At the beginning of class we’d watch a patient story. A lot of them would tell the story about how they found out they had cancer. You just get a random bruise," added Marshall.

The stories putting the harsh realities of life into perspective.

"It will change your life in just a day, and you wouldn’t even realize." Baker said. "I’ve learned to be grateful for what I do have.”

East Middle School St. Jude Fundraiser
East Middle School Students celebrating a successful class fundraiser.

With the boys falling short of their goal, the class gained valuable lessons how to count money. A skill Bokma says will be useful as they grow up. Others, like Elizabeth Baker, haven't had the opportunity to raise money for a cause.

"I think it’s something I’m definitely going to do in the future.”

When the final tab was taken the entire class was rewarded with ice cream bars and sandwiches. A small token of their efforts to better the lives of others.

"You (the families) can focus on your child and not have to worry about the money." Marshall said.

"All the money is going to one certain cause, it’s a really big thing." Bokma said ". It can cause someone life or death... we can help a little bit, not that much, but we can still help everybody be a little bit better.”

Kumm told MTN prior to the COVID pandemic all of East Middle School participated in the St. Jude Mathathon. The total funds raised as a school was $3,600. She says she hopes the students' perseverance inspire East and other school to participate and raise more each year.