Charter school’s virtual fit-a-thon deemed a success

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Photo courtesy Pagosa Peak Open School
Pagosa Peak Open School students accumulate Winter Fitness Minutes at school, at home or out in Pagosa Country as part of a fundraiser for the school. Activities included skiing, sledding, snowboarding, snow sculpting, horseback riding, winter versions of games like soccer, capture the flag, ice skating, etc. The school made over $15,000 from the event.

By Alison Beach
Pagosa Peak Open School 

COVID-19 has forced every school across the globe to pivot and adjust how things are done. From a mixture of in-person and distance learning to virtual parent-teacher conferences, schools have learned to adapt and keep going through this novel time of change. The realm of school fundraising is no exception, and COVID has forced schools to innovate creative ways to engage families, both in-person and distance.

Pagosa Peak Open School (PPOS) holds a fun run event and fundraiser annually in the fall, lovingly referred to as Ninja Warrior. In the past, the school raised funds online to “sponsor” a student’s run through the course. All students compete together, and friends and family all over the nation can donate toward the school.

This school year, PPOS had to recreate and evolve this event into a COVID-safe fundraiser. The school faced several problems. Cohorts cannot mix and use the same equipment/course. How can the event engage the distance-learning class? What happens if the whole school is forced to return to distance learning by the state and can’t hold the competition in person at all?

These questions led to the creation of the PPOS Winter Games. This virtual fit-a-thon fundraiser combined donations through an online fundraising website and outdoor winter activities that counted toward Winter Fitness Minutes. 

From Jan. 25 to Feb. 5, PPOS students accumulated Winter Fitness Minutes at school, at home or out in Pagosa Country. Activities included skiing, sledding, snowboarding, snow sculpting, horseback riding, winter versions of games like soccer, capture the flag, ice skating, etc. Basically, the students competed outside in Pagosa while enjoying the essentials of being Pagosans.

Families tracked Winter Fitness Minutes, sent in photos and shared the fundraiser online. The student with the most fitness minutes was River S. in Robyn Villarreal’s second- and third-grade class. River tracked 2,677 minutes (that’s over 44 hours). His name will appear on a handmade perpetual plaque that will be on display at PPOS. Villarreal’s class will also be etched into the perpetual plaque for the most class Winter Fitness Minutes at 10,486 minutes logged by the class as a whole.

The school’s goal this year for the family fundraiser was $14,000 and, on Feb. 8, the school’s donation totals from PPOS Winter Games totaled $15,365, This is an outstanding feat for a school with 118 students. The class donation winner for the PPOS Winter Games was Emily Murphy’s distance learning class with $3,605 raised for the school.

This fundraiser was conceived to engage in-person and distance students while encouraging all of the students to get out and enjoy the beauty of Pagosa Country. PPOS believes that staying connected is essential to cultivating our culture in this time of social distancing and wants to make sure every student can participate in the PPOS Winter Games.