Lost Creek Elementary School Student Council members: (back row from left to right) Weston Jeffryes, Aliyah Betz, Janie Lenser, (middle row from left to right) Maddie Retzlaff, Reese Carlson, Liberty Bos, (front row from left to right) Adi Frey, Madelyn Bystrzynski and Alayna Arndt.

Lost Creek Elementary School Student Council members are on a mission to help provide people with special needs a night to remember.

“Just because people are different doesn’t mean you can treat them differently, because everybody is the same,” Maddie said.

The council – managed by teacher Shanda Erb – consists of fourth-grade students Weston Jeffryes, Aliyah Betz, Janie Lenser, Maddie Retzlaff, Reese Carlson, Liberty Bos, Adi Frey, Madelyn Bystrzynski and Alayna Arndt.

The students are aiming to donate at least $500 for the Night to Shine prom scheduled to take place on Feb. 8 at 1C The Sanctuary, 2200 28th Ave. The event is catered to people with special needs ages 14 and older. Admission is free. 

“It’s a time where they can have fun, because they can’t have fun like the way we do,” Reese said.

Erb said students are exposed to students with special needs on a daily basis through the school’s High Needs Special Education program. When Erb pitched the idea of the Night to Shine prom, it was an instant win among the council.

“These kids are exposed to a lot of people that might be different from them, so it’s important to embrace that,” Erb said.

The group started raising proceeds on Monday through its annual Candy Cane Grams fundraiser by selling candy canes for 50 cents each to students and staff. The council will be collecting the last round of orders on Friday before packing and delivering the treats on Friday, Dec. 21, in anticipation of Christmas.

Although the council has yet to tally up numbers, members said they are feeling optimistic about reaching their overall $500 goal, especially with each teacher buying at least one candy cane for their students. Because there are close to 400 students at the school, Reese said as long as each student purchase at least two candy canes, the council is in good shape.

Maddie said she already has completed orders for 10 candy canes.

Every year, the council hosts the Candy Cane Gram fundraiser to benefit several local causes like the Lost Creek Parent Teacher Organization and the Columbus Inclusive Playground at the school. Members raised approximately $900 during the 2017-18 school year.

The group said it always make an effort to highlight each holiday, noting council members delivered May Day baskets earlier this spring.

To join the council, each member had to present a speech illustrating the reasons why he or she would make a good candidate and then gather votes. Since joining the council, members said they have picked up on several friendship and leadership skills.

Most importantly, they said the council gives members a platform to help others.

“It’s nice to help kids that don’t really get to enjoy themselves,” Adi said.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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