Seniors sweep Pennies for Patients


McKayla Mayer, Head Editor

McKayla Mayer One of Mount Pisgah’s largest annual fundraisers, Pennies for Patients, has once again made an impact, collecting upwards of $3,000 in donations.

Presiding over Mount Pisgah’s branch of the fundraiser is A.P. European History teacher and student government faculty advisor John Whitehurst.

Whitehurst describes the program as “a fundraiser that is put on by Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America (LLS) to fund research into new treatments for Leukemia and Lymphoma.”

In order to fund this kind of research, LLS has created school fundraisers like Pennies for Patients to get students involved in the process. Mount Pisgah’s branch “started before I started here, at least 2005” recalls Whitehurst. Throughout his years running the program, Whitehurst has seen it evolve from simple donations to a full on competition between the grades.

“One of the things we changed in the upper school to make it more successful was to make it into a penny war— a competition between the grades,” says Whitehurst. In the new format, students could now win various prizes, which by large, encouraged more students to donate.

While the program has typically seen success in the past, raising anywhere between $2,000 to $10,600, this particular year stood out due to its unusually low donations. With a total of $3,080, this places the 2019-2020 school year at the lowest it’s ever been since 2007-2008, when the students managed to raise $2,034.

The senior class alone donated a total of $1,400 out of the $3,080, making their collective efforts account for a little under half of the overall donations. The low level of donations could come as a result of the widely held belief amongst upper school students that seniors “always win” however, according to Whitehurst, “there have been at least two years that a lower grade has won.”

Despite this, it is true that seniors usually do take home the gold.

“Seniors, however, are the most motivated of all the grades because to lose to an under-class grade would be humiliating” recounts Whitehurst.

Because of this, seniors “search through all those couch cushions to find every penny and nickel they can to donate.”

In addition, seniors are also more likely to have jobs or financial resources to draw from than the lower grades.

In reality, in spite of accusations, there is no evidence of seniors cheating their way to the top, but instead, they seem to be simply more determined than the other grades.

Aside from the seniors, juniors  had a strong presence in the competition this year, while the sophomores and freshman fell short.

Even with the stigma that “seniors always win,” Whitehurst encourages the other grades to look at it as “any year you can deny the senior class winning, is a win for every under class grade.”

All the donations going to LLS have the potential to save someone’s life, so Whitehurst looks forward to next year in hopes that the competitive spirit and donations given will increase.