Throughout the school year, Ashby Lee Elementary School supports the community through various projects. Staff at the school is so committed to giving back that they have actually formed a Charitable Giving Team. Among other non-profit organizations, this year ALE has supported That Others May Live, an organization providing assistance to families of servicemen and women killed or severely injured in training or combat; Relay for Life, a signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society; and Family Promise, a Shenandoah County community response to homeless people with families. As has become a tradition over the last four years, February was “Love the Animals” month at Ashby Lee. The school sponsored fundraisers for the Humane Society of Shenandoah County and the Vicki Lutz Dog Rescue.
Titled “Pay It by the Pound,” this fundraiser was a competitive event. Classes and individuals competed against each other by keeping a record of the pounds of food or other items that were donated. If an item weighed less than a pound or did not have a weight, such as a ball or a blanket or a single can of food, that item counted as one pound.
Julie Walthall, Speech Pathologist at ALE, served as coordinator of the Love the Animals month. She reported that students and staff donated approximately 2,534 pounds of supplies and raised $822.05 and are still selling t-shirts. The top student fundraiser as well as the top three classes won prizes for their efforts.
Donations for the Humane Society of Shenandoah County were stacked in the hallway at Ashby Lee Elementary School. Day by day, the stack grew larger and larger.
Donations for the Humane Society of Shenandoah County were stacked in the hallway at
Ashby Lee Elementary School. Day by day, the stack grew larger and larger.
Ethan Showman, the top individual fundraiser, was awarded two tickets to Regal Cinema and a gift card for popcorn and a drink. Ethan's allergy to cats has not stopped him from helping his feline friends. He and his family rescued four cats who were "dumped" at their barn. Mamamia and Fluffy Face are calicos; Peanut has tiger stripes; and Little Fur Fur is dark gray. Ethan and his family also organzied a dinner for the United Church of Christ and St. John's United Church of Christ. Free-will donations for the ALE fundraiser were accepted at the meal. Ethan is hopeful that there is a Beagle rescue in his future.
Emma and Eli Wimer, who are siblings, tied for second place. Each student received a Walmart gift card. Emma and Eli love their little dog Jackson, who is a Schweenie, a mix of Shih Tzu and Dachshund.
Eli Wimer with Jackson
Emma Wimer with Jackson
The top three classes from the competition and also ALE’s preschool classes received a visit from Vicki Lutz and her “amazing dogs,” an appropriate prize for a fundraiser to benefit animals. When the pounds were tallied these classrooms came out on top:
First Place: Mrs. Bauserman
Second Place: Mrs. Weimerskirch
Third Place: Mrs. Corso
Gator (on left, sitting), Reese (lying), and Tahoe (right, sitting) pose with
Alice Bauserman’s class who finished first in Pay It By the Pound.
On February 24, Vicki Lutz and her certified therapy dogs, Reese, Tahoe, and Gator came to Ashby Lee and, by all reports, no one wanted them to leave. These three dogs go to school every day with Ms. Lutz, who is a physical education teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Throughout the day, if a child needs some help, Ms. Lutz’s dogs are there to console or calm or cheer them up. “Dogs are good at loving children,” explained Ms. Lutz. “I always stress to children that dogs love you unconditionally. They don’t base their love on anything. They love you no matter what.”
Javonte Torres, a student in Jessica Lutz’s preschool class,
has a new friend.
On their visit to ALE’s winning classrooms, the dogs retrieved “ducks” that entire classrooms of students, one at a time, threw across ALE’s playground for them to retrieve. The children petted and hugged the dogs and talked to them and shared stories about their own pets with their teachers. For many other children, this was the first time they had the opportunity to play with a dog.
Retrieving ducks in their mouths, Tahoe (left) and Reese head back to
the line of students so that another child may have their turn throwing the
ducks for one of the dogs to retrieve.
When they were outside playing, the dogs did not wear clothes, but when she brought them inside the school, Ms. Lutz pulled T-shirts on Tahoe and Gator and a skirt on Reese, who is somehow bothered by t-shirts. Seeing the dogs in costumes made the children laugh, but Ms. Lutz explained that there’s a reason for the clothes. “When they are working,” she said, “they wear clothes. When they are playing, they do not. The clothes are a signal to them.”
Front to back resting from a morning spent running are Tahoe, Reese,
and Gator. All three dogs are Labrador Retrievers -- Gator is a Yellow
Lab, Reese is a Chocolate Lab, and Tahoe is a Black Lab. Ms. Lutz found
all three dogs at rescue organizations.
Ms. Lutz talked to students in the preschool classes about being
safe around dogs. She simply and clearly explained that they
should not pet a dog, not any dog, without first asking the dog’s
owner if it was okay to pet their dog. Children who wanted to pet her
therapy dogs were given time to do so.
The Ashby-Lee Elementary School PTO had movie night on February 25. Showing of The Secret Life of Pets allowed an additional opportunity to donate to these organizations.
Ms. Walthall noted that if anyone wants to contribute to the Humane Society, they may mail donations to
The Humane Society of Shenandoah County
Attn: Melisa Miller-Piselli
PO Box 173
Woodstock, VA 22664
While Ms. Lutz is not an official nonprofit, she does rescue dogs. If you want additional information about the Vicki Lutz Dog Rescue, you may contact Ms. Lutz at email@example.com.
“Thank you, Ms. Lutz and Reese and Tahoe and Gator!
Please come back soon!"
Message from Ashby Lee Elementary Students