In the past few weeks of school, students at Fossil Ridge High School raised more than $3,000 for Red Cross tornado relief as they encouraged each other to “Give Thanks, not Pranks.”The effort started a few days after May 15 tornadoes killed six people and damaged homes in Granbury and Cleburne. Principal David Hadley told students during morning announcements that they should think of those who are less fortunate, count their blessings and be thankful for their education instead of complaining about increased school security designed to stop disruptive pranks.Although students at Fossil Ridge did not instigate chaotic senior pranks last year like those at Central, Timber Creek and Keller, district administrators decided to enforce strict security measures at all high schools for the last few weeks of the year. Students were not allowed to carry backpacks or use lockers and extra security guards patrolled campuses.While Hadley mentioned the “thanks, not pranks” idea briefly in morning announcements, several teachers and many students took the idea and ran with it.Students in Manuel Vasquez’s audio-visual classes created a public service announcement to run during morning announcements. The “Thanks, Not Pranks” video also was posted on Facebook.Hadley said that Ridge cheer team coach Hillary White asked him about organizing students to collect money for tornado victimsJunior Jason Kaempf, a member of the cheer team, said he taped up the end of a megaphone and collected donations from students and staff during lunch and between classes. “Everyone at Fossil Ridge was ready to donate and ready to help,” Jason said.Spencer Strong, another junior, said many of the student organizations got involved in the effort. She heard about the fund drive through her involvement in the drama club. With the tornados affecting people so close to home, she was more impacted by the tragedy and wanted to help as much as possible.Spencer came up with a unique way to raise money. She took her guitar around school at lunches and during classes and offered to sing a song with the student’s name in it for a donation of at least 25 cents. Much of the $160 she raised came from classes who pooled their change to get a special song.“I just thought it would be a creative idea,” Spencer said.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @SandraEngelland