Educators at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School hold a giant check for the food donated to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank through a drive that math students at the school participated in. (Courtesy photo / Imagine Learning)

Educators at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School hold a giant check for the food donated to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank through a drive that math students at the school participated in. (Courtesy photo / Imagine Learning)

Middle school students raise money for food bank with math skills

The donation drive was spread across schools in four states.

Students at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School turned math problems into real-world money as they participated in a drive with 60 schools across the Pacific Northwest.

Students acquired “think points” through doing math coursework in the Imagine Learning curriculum, said Olivia Saunders, the program’s Alaska partnership manager, in an email.

“We are so proud of our students,” said principal Molly Yerkes in a phone interview. “I’m incredibly proud of the time and energy they put in, especially given the online platform they’re using.”

About a hundred students across several grades participated in the fundraiser, Yerkes said.

“Students have the choice to use their think points to create custom avatars, donate to several national charities, or given this unique opportunity to donate to our NW food drive,” Saunders said. “Imagine Learning then converted each think point into a dollar amount or pounds depending on the food bank’s preference. In this case, Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School donated 100 pounds of food.”

DZ students elected to donate their points, converted to currency, to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank, allowing the food bank to purchase more than 100 pounds of food, Saunders said.

“The amount of time they were doing the program, it was targeting skills that needed to improve on,” Yerkes said. “It’s just a win-win.”

The drive isn’t the first of its kind, Saunders said, though this was the first time Dzantik’i Heeni had participated, Yerkes said. A previous drive aimed at supporting relief efforts for the fires that ravaged the West Coast last year, Saunders said. The educational organization is keen to continue it, Saunders said, hoping that if more people see the results of the students hard work, more schools, including other Juneau schools, will participate next time.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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