A popular fundraiser at our school is the Penny War. All the money collected from it is donated to community members who are in need. Last year, our school’s Penny War had been raging at our school for the last two weeks. Every day all the teachers and students poured their pennies into their class collection boxes, in hopes of winning the war by collecting the most pennies and claiming the ultimate prize- a pizza party. But in all wars, of course, there is great turmoil…
One day a class could be winning the war, but the next a sudden attack could ensue. The enemies, students from other classes, could bomb a collection box with sinister silver coins. Quarters! Dimes! Nickels! Silver coins were evil weapons- they negated the value of your pennies. Say, you had twenty-five pennies, and someone dropped a quarter into your collection box, that would give you ZERO for your penny count. Attacks were growing intense as the weeks of the war were drawing to a close, and there had been rumors that one of the 8th grade homerooms had been hoarding all their pennies until the final day of the count. This kind of tactic was causing quite a stir among the other homerooms. Some students had also taken to standing by the collection boxes in the mornings, trying to shoo their enemies to other boxes, until they were caught by their generals (a.k.a. the teachers) and were lectured about the proper rules of war.
My 6th grade homeroom students were no different from the others. They wanted to win and were devising a plan to save up all their silver coins to attack the collection boxes that had been rumored to have the most pennies. No one was safe. We really meant business.
Then, one morning, as I was beginning my English class with a group of seventh graders (an enemy class, yes, but war or no war, we still had classes to teach) a few of us grew silent as we caught a glint of something on the floor. It was a DIME! Other students noticed where our eyes had darted to on the floor and looked in the same direction. For an instant, no one could move. One student, Colt*, and I just stared at each other. We all knew what this meant- if one of the seventh graders picked up that dime, my homeroom could very well be on the receiving end of another silver coin in our collection box. If I picked up that dime, my homeroom would have another piece of ammunition to carry out their plan of attack. What was I to do? The tension was building with each passing second. Colt and I simultaneously rushed forward to grab the dime. I was quicker. Slowly, still facing him, I stepped back toward my desk with the latest addition to my homeroom’s coin-cache, as I commanded Colt and his 7th grade battalion, “Stay back! I’ve got silver and I know how to use it.”
* Student’s name has been changed