Ring Lardner students doing their part

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Chris Cockerel and his seventh grade flex class are dedicating their class time to helping American soldiers in Iraq.
The class is raising money and donations to aid soldiers in Iraq and the families they were forced to leave behind.
Cockerel was an American soldier for almost 10 years before becoming a math teacher at Ring Lardner. He was part of the 415th Civil Affairs Battalion out of Kalamazoo, who have recently been sent to Iraq.
He said the flex class is a very open class time in which they integrate all of the students' other classes into real life applications.
His class decided they will raise money for soldiers by shoveling snow for donations, providing a game night, donation cans and possibly a bake sale.
The money and goods that the class receives will be sent to a distribution point in Cockerel's battalion which will take care of dispersing the donations
Cockerel said a portion of the money will go to families of soldiers who are currently in Iraq.
They would also like to use the money to buy things for the soldiers that they would not normally get in Iraq.
The class mentioned things like cookies, Doritos, sunblock and baby wipes.
The class began planning for this community service project last week and has already made great strides.
The entire class has written letters to the principal to request permission to do these tasks. They have all also written the drafts for the permission slip that will go home to parents.
When they are needed, the class will be shoveling snow for area residents on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1:45 to 3 p.m.
Cockerel said this will include shoveling driveways, sidewalks and even spreading salt for residents who provide it. Due to transportation constraints, the class will be limited to providing their shoveling service to residents in the neighborhoods surrounding Ring Lardner.
Cockerel said the serviceable area will generally be between Oak Street and Lake Street and between the school and 14th Street. On Tuesday, the group was making flyers to advertise for their services. The flyers will be posted around the school and given to residents in the general area. The community service project will also feature a game night to raise money. They have not yet scheduled a time and place for this, but it may take place at school dances or possibly an outside facility.
Game nights will raise money by providing games like ring toss, cake walk and catapult.
Cockerel hopes this project will be a valuable learning experience that teaches the students a number of lessons.

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