Battle Of Classes Celebrates 40 Years Of Helping Others
For 40 years this event has purported to pit high school students against each other in figurative combat, but in reality the Jamestown High School’s Battle of the Classes has only brought them and the Jamestown community closer together.
“It’s exciting that the tradition has been going for so long and the year we get to lead Battle of the Classes is the year that we’re seniors and it’s the 40th anniversary. So it’s a special occasion,” said Allie Stockwell, JHS senior and co-class president.
During the 1979-80 school year, Jamestown Public Schools created an event to give back to the city and energize students. What Carolyn Whitehead and Eileen Braungard, teachers and advisers at the time, didn’t know was the fact they had helped create a school tradition that would continue 40 years later.
Each year, the school chooses a local organization to benefit from the proceeds raised by the competing classes. This year, the Child Advocacy Group (CAP) was selected from a pool of seven possible candidates. CAP was also selected during the 2012-13 school year.
“It definitely adds a little motivation for us to make sure we have a good total … it’s pretty special for us,” said Christian Dolce, JHS senior and co-class president, regarding the 40th anniversary and donating to CAP.
Tony Dolce, JHS teacher, believes JHS’s Battle of the Classes has generated in the range of $250,000 to $300,000 in the 40 years of its run. Since 2006, when Dolce began as the student organization advisor, the classes have generated $145,000 in just 13 years.
The biggest year generated more than $20,000 for “Kallie’s Krusade.” Last year, Battle of the Classes raised $12,892 for the UCAN-City Mission.
Tony Dolce, missed the first battle by 12 months as he graduated after the 1978-79 school year. But Dolce has been with the school as an employee for the last 30 years where he has participated in the charitable event in some capacity during his tenure. To him, the battle for charity has only grown and continues to generate added energy within the student body.
Dolce said while other schools may host similar events, he believes Jamestown’s is one of a kind.
“It’s unique the amount of money we raise and who we raise it for,” Dolce said. “I think it’s important to keep it going. Part of our mission as a student organization is to raise money and help within the community and to get the students volunteering, raising money and helping local charities.
“Also from a stand point of school spirit, it brings the whole school together,” Dolce said. “While it’s highly competitive among the four classes at the end of the day it also unites the school to a common cause.”
That unity and charity Dolce continues to emphasize was a primary goal when Whitehead, Braungard and former JHS student Rebecca Lee conceived the idea. The discussion actually began in 1978, but it wasn’t until the 1979-80 school year that the first ever event was hosted at JHS.
“There was so much competition among the classes,” Whitehead said of the three high school grade levels at the time. “We tried to get the whole school in something that we could build over the years.”
Whitehead said the three classes, prior to the battle and other movements within the student organization, did not support the other grades in any fashion.
Whitehead and Braungard remained involved in their creation until Whitehead retired in 1999. Braungard retired later in 2003.
While admitting they didn’t know exactly what the Battle of the Classes would evolve into, Braungard said “it blossomed into what we hoped it would blossom into.”
A large take away from the event is that it’s extremely inclusive to all students. The two wanted to create an activity that wasn’t solely based in traditional athletics. The events were supposed to be fun, energetic and welcoming to the entire student body, as they have remained. This year new event “Skin the Snake” will be implemented that serves as a variation of a relay race.
The second goal was to raise money for local organizations in order to serve as an educational lesson for the students while they were having fun.
“We had a vision and it took off,” Braungard said. “We’re really pleased that it’s sustained itself as long as it has.”
The two, who haven’t been to a battle since retirement, will be joining the festivities on Wednesday. There, the two, as they expressed to The Post-Journal last week, will likely be proud of the event they created 40 years ago that’s brought Jamestown together.