Penny Wars!


Matthew Soares, Senior Teacher at May Center for Brain Injury and Neurobehavioral Disorders, and his student Brendan, came up with an activity to encourage giving back to the community while fostering friendly competition! After the two bonded over their love for animals and Brendan expressed a desire to give back, they put their heads together to create a school-wide Penny War! Below, Matthew describes the competition, and talks about how he and Brendan put a unique (and messy) twist on the traditional Penny War! 

“The Penny War came about when one of my students, Brendan, mentioned that he wanted to do an activity to help raise money for a good cause. This led to him and I talking about charities and how they work. Since he and I are both animal lovers and have pet dogs, we began by looking at local animal shelters, and found The Bay State Animal Cooperative, a non-kill animal shelter based in Norwood. I explained to Brendan that “no kill” meant that they specialize in foster care and adoptions, and don’t believe in letting animals die. He was very excited about that, and we brainstormed how we could raise some money to help support them. 

I remembered a competition called a “Penny War” that we did in Brockton several years ago and looked up the rules. As we explored the different rules, we stumbled upon the idea of throwing a pie at someone on the losing team. As Brendan and I reviewed the many variations of Penny Wars, we settled on the rules we wanted to include and added the pie-in-the-face as a bonus.  

We would have three winners, and the pie stipulation was that if a classroom won any of the top three slots, then they could pick an administrator to pie. If an admin office placed in any of the top three slots, they could pick a teacher to pie. As we organized and got all the teams together, we asked for volunteers across the teaching staff and administration. We handed out jars to every classroom and department, and on every Friday in October we would collect the jars. Over the weekend I would count and tally everyone’s totals and record their standing. On Monday mornings, I would send out an email so everyone could see where they stood before starting to collect again for the new week! 

After a month of counting pennies, the results were: 

1st Place: Operations Department. They chose to pie Jonathan, a Teacher Assistant. 

2nd Place: Class 11. They chose to pie Andrea, Executive Director. 

3rd Place: Class 7: They chose to pie Jeanine, a member of our Family Services Department.  

The final total raised was $465.50! The change was deposited, and a check was written for the Bay State Animal Cooperative. Every penny we raised is going directly to their cause.” 

Congratulations to the students and staff in Norwood for such a successful and delicious competition! Hundreds of pennies and several pies later, The Bay State Animal Cooperative now has a hefty chunk of change to keep their animals healthy and happy.