'Bigger than a T-shirt'

'Bigger than a T-shirt'

When a new student walks the hallways of Troy South Middle School for the first time, there can be plenty of nerves. It means a new school, a new teacher and new friends.

However, administrators and staff are ready to calm any fears. Every student in the school receives a spirit shirt as a way to demonstrate that they are included.

“It symbolizes that we are a team and we want to build a culture of kindness in our school,” sixth-grade English teacher Heather Dildine said.

Dildine is helping spearhead the spirit shirt project. Last year she was named the Teacher of the Year in the Lincoln County R-3 School District and received $2,500 for the award. A large portion of the money was used to purchase spirit shirts for the current school year. However, she and other staff want the initiative to be ongoing.

In January, the school was awarded a $1,200 Operation Round Up grant from the Cuivre River Electric Community Trust Board. The grant will be used to purchase spirit shirts for the next two years. Operation Round Up funds come from Cuivre River members who voluntarily “round up” their electric bill payments each month to the next highest dollar.

The black shirts, emblazoned with the school name and logo in silver lettering, are printed by the high school screen-printing class. Students wear the shirts the last Friday of every month, but they are actually worn on a more regular basis by many.
Administrators and staff strongly believe the spirit shirts are more than just part of a student’s wardrobe.

“It’s bigger than a T-shirt,” Principal Dr. Amy Salvo said. “It’s a sense of community and belonging.”

Dildine added: “We are so grateful and so appreciative to keep this vision going.”

Operation Round Up was created to address needs in the areas of health, education, home weatherization, youth, community and emergency services that cannot be met with other resources. All contributions are tax-deductible, and 100 percent of the funds allocated to Operation Round Up are used for grants.

For more information, email tschmidt@cuivre.com or call 636-695-4837.

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