What started as a response to the devastating Indonesian tsunami in 2004 turned into a wave of sound and success during a special ceremony last week.
Students at Morinville Community High School worked for five years to amass a staggering one million nickels for charity. That amount was finally achieved through the continued dedication of class after class, year after year.
Every Wednesday morning since the beginning, they would put more nickels in a makeshift eaves trough below the second floor balcony into the Plexiglas nickel box next to the office on the main floor. Every week they would watch the level rise closer and closer to their goal.
To put it another way, their goal was to make change.
“Our students wanted to make a difference in the world and help others less fortunate than them,” explained teacher Peter Nolan. He led a drum circle at the ceremony to not only call the rest of the student body to the foyer, but also to instil in them a tribal sense of togetherness.
“The drums have become the 'heartbeat' of our school and serve as a real unifying and community-building vehicle. It's good for the soul.”
He said the drumming has been the perpetual musical accompaniment to the effort. “Our drummers would welcome everyone to the school every Wednesday morning as a reminder of the goal we were attempting. So many have contributed that it grew into a real community effort.”
As it turned out, so many coins were being poured in during the ceremony that the nickel box overflowed. One person was overheard joking, “The cup runneth over.”
After the event, members of Brinks Security, who volunteered their time, bagged all the nickels. The money — which included all denominations of metal currency — was taken to an Edmonton Legion. Volunteers are still counting and rolling the results.
Although a final tally is not yet available, Nolan said that whatever it turns out to be will all go to worthy causes. A committee will be struck in the fall to determine the beneficiaries.
“Ultimately, we wish to help as many people as we can so the decisions will be based on research and on specific needs.”