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Penny Wars

Here are the rules of war:  

  • Paper money and pennies are positive points - 1 point per penny (27 pennies = 27 points, $1 bill = 100 points) 

  • Anything silver (nickels, dimes, quarters, etc.) are negative points  

  • It’s homeroom vs homeroom per grade trying to gain points and canceling out competitors' points 

  • The point standings of every homeroom will be announced each day so competitors can strategize how to attack other homerooms 

  • All spoils of war are donated to outreach efforts 

  • This war will last one week... God speed! 

Penny Wars is the middle school’s week-long annual fundraiser for their outreach initiatives. Harnessing the power of good-spirited competition, this tradition gets the students to bring in thousands of dollars for outreach events in November. This year, the 8th graders spent the day at Samaritans Purse, the 6th graders served at Samaritans Feet, and the 7th graders shopped in teams at Target to buy gifts for families in need, in partnership with the Matthews Police Department.

“I love the way Penny Wars brings the school community together,” reflects Claire Freace, a MS English teacher. “Yes, it is a competition, but students are willing to come together to compete to GIVE, and I think the concept and the heart behind it reflects the foundations of the mission of CDS. And I know that it isn’t just students; it’s entire families that get into the spirit of Penny Wars. We have a blast all together as a school and community, and the competition between teachers is REAL: Mrs. Burns, Mr. Fuderer, Mr. Turner… it’s no holds barred.” 


“The fun helps get the kids involved,” says Jane Burns, a MS math teacher, “but then I think the outreach really helps the kids understand, ‘Oh, my money is allowing us to do this. This is something outside myself.’ Kids will bring their own Ziplock bag of money from their room, and it’s just amazing. And parents get behind it. Kids will go home and say, ‘Mom, Dad, I need all my pennies rolled at the bank because I get bonus points if they’re rolled.’ Whatever the situation is, as a family they can sacrifice for this cause, and I think it’s really cool that they get to minister as a family and as a school.” 

This year the middle school raised $6,820.06!

While that is quite a lot of pennies, the heart of Penny Wars is to be salt and light, not only when the students go off to serve the different nonprofits but also in the hallways as they compete and work together with fellow students.  

“Penny Wars is something every student can participate in. While many of our students come from financially well-off situations, we also have students who are on tuition assistance and families that have had lots but are going through difficult times, etc.,” says Beth Farina, a MS physical science teacher. “The lesson for all of us is that God doesn’t want the biggest amount - He wants our personal best. I smile when I think of students who gave their own money - not money provided by a parent but something that was theirs to spend however they wanted. That lets me know we are reaching hearts.”  

It’s truly amazing, and often hilarious, what folks in the middle school will do in the spirit of Penny Wars. For example, the faculty produced an inspirational video with history teacher Matthew Broadus dressed up like a hobbit and went to see P.E. teacher Jimbo the Grey (watch the following video): 

Beth Farina remembers a student bringing a rolling suitcase of pennies one year. Teachers tasked with counting the money each day are haunted by the sound of the money counters mixed with the harsh metallic smell of all those coins. (That stuff lingers!) 

Ryan Fuderer, a MS math teacher, recalls, “Way back in the day, to earn extra points, a student from homeroom had to take all the change collected that day to a teacher that was hidden somewhere on campus. The first student to find said teacher got bonus points for their homeroom. Well, we had a lot of change that day, so it had to be carried in a backpack. And for some reason, the smallest girl in my homeroom was determined to be our runner that day. Long story short, she got knocked over in the rush out of the building and fell backwards on the backpack. Because it was so heavy due to all the change, she was like a turtle stuck on its shell. Her little arms and legs were going like crazy, but she could not get herself back up! Needless to say, we did not get the bonus points that day.” 

It may be the fun that helps get the kids involved, but thankfully everyone is changed for the better in Penny Wars.