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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

North Putnam 'carnival' celebrates end of year, raises money for Ambassadors

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sixth-grader Logan Grim tries to get the ping-pong ball in the cup during his turn at Cuponk at the "Carnival" festival at North Putnam Middle School. The event also raised money for the Cougar Ambassadors. [Order this photo]
BAINBRIDGE -- Carnivals invoke memories of rides and games outside, but while the rain prevented some events from happening, such as water balloon fights and a cornhole tournament, it didn't stop the end-of-the-year celebration for North Putnam Middle School.

The event, sponsored by the Cougar Ambassadors, not only celebrated the end of the year, but also helped raise funds for the Ambassador's many philanthropic projects, said Lori Baker, sixth-grade science teacher and sponsor of the group.

The group was once called the O Ambassadors because it was sponsored by Oprah Winfrey, but it is no longer affiliated with Winfrey's Angel Network. The ambassadors still work with Free the Children and their main goal is to spread the word about the state of living in other countries and educate others.

"We dream big," Baker said.

The group was created four years ago and has grown from a small group of roughly a dozen students to 53 total today. The group has sponsored several different events and activities at the school this past year, including creating the school's recycling program.

Tyler Martin and Jessie Cox, both in eighth grade, talked about joining the group and realizing the need to recycle to save money and help the environment. When they noticed how much cardboard the lunchroom was throwing away -- the food comes packaged in cardboard boxes -- they decided to focus on recycling that at first.

"In three days we filled up a minivan," Martin said.

The project was a big help to the school financially, and principal Terry Tippin said the Ambassadors were a great group for the school.

"It helps us be a complete, well-rounded school," Tippin said.

The Ambassadors also finished with their yearly project, teaching the second-graders from Roachdale and Bainbridge Elementary about life in other countries. Baker said they have them perform an activity where the students have to follow a trail to a water source, fill a bucket of water and then carry it back to the school like women in some African villages must do every day. Baker said this activity, which can take an hour, prevents most women from going to school even if the family is financially able to let them go.

The Ambassadors teach the kids in a classroom behind the school they paid for themselves, with help from a $1,000 grant from Learn and Serve.

But all students were invited to this particular event. The door price of $3 helps the Ambassadors, but the many games helped students unwind after a long year of hard work and education. Students could practice their putting skills, play dodgeball, take advantage of the free swim at the pool or just chill out and play board games like Life and Yahtzee. The Cuponk game, where players have to bounce a ping pong ball into a large cup that lights up upon success, was a popular attraction as well.

Despite the meaning behind the event, some students were happy to enjoy the time off and the upcoming summer vacation.

"(I'm) very excited. I'm going to Ohio, to see my family," said sixth-grader Logan Grim.

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