Longtime JHS Fundraiser Returns To Traditional Format

Members of the senior class of 2023 celebrate during the 42nd annual Battle of the Classes on March 30. The event returned to its traditional format at McElrath Gymnasium for the first time since 2019.

Crazy wigs, silly costumes, face paint, and so much more — all in the name of a good cause.

The 42nd Jamestown High School Battle of the Classes returned to its traditional format and location — McElrath Gymnasium — in style on Thursday, March 30.The event — a school-wide competition that includes games, skills contests, and dance-offs to celebrate several weeks worth of intense fundraising for a community organization — returned to the “Mac Gym” for the first time since 2019. Events had been held at Strider Field the last two years.

“We were really excited to get back to our more traditional Battle of the Classes,” said JHS student government advisor Tony Dolce. “The challenge for us has been that none of the current group of students have had a traditional battle. The last two years have been a modified outdoor battle so it was really fun to see how they reacted to having it inside.”

Over the last four decades, the school has raised over $300,000 for community organizations and charities. Students chose the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County as the 2023 beneficiary, raising $6,936.57 for the organization.

“The most important part of this event has always been the fundraising and supporting our community,” Dolce said. “It’s been an important way to teach students the importance of giving back.”

Student organization members present a check for $6,936.57 to Steven Cobb (center) of the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County.

“We had a lot of suggestions from each of the classes this year on where to donate the money,” said Emylia Hallberg, president of the JHS Class of 2023 who also serves as a student representative on the district’s board of education. “We all wanted to do something with the community in mind, but there was a push to focus on mental health in the wake of COVID-19.”

“For our generation, mental health is really important to us and the foundations of wellness in all areas of our lives, so we thought it would be an excellent choice to benefit a charity that works so well that fits all of our values and needs,” said Madeline DeJoy, Class of 2023 Historian.

Proceeds will help benefit MHA’s “Code Blue Warming Center” established earlier this year, according to MHA executive director Steven Cobb, who called the timing “perfect.”

“This expansion into homeless/shelter services has created new areas of need the MHA is working to directly address in our community,” said MHA executive director Steven Cobb. “Being invited to join the Battle of the Classes fundraiser will allow us to meet those needs. We are really excited to be a part of this important event.”

Cobb said the donation from JHS students will help to make physical updates to the association’s Gateway Center space to provide shower, laundry, and technology services to those in need across the community.

“We are now supporting our community neighbors with substance and mental health challenges in more ways than we ever had,” Cobb added. “Any chance we get to discuss the MHA and the work we do reduces the stigma and fear that often envelop our healing recovery work. The deep civic mindedness of the students at JHS is helping us to address and diminish this considerable obstacle to wellness in our city.”

The Class of 2024 was declared the winner, raising $4,125.24 and also placing first in the skills competition. The Senior Class of 2023 raised $1,259.88, the Freshman Class of 2026 raised $885.68, and the Sophomore Class of 2025 raised $666.07. Accepting the donation from members of the JHS student government was Steven Cobb, MHA executive director.

As for the skills competitions, traditional events such as the tug of war, basketball, volleyball, dance competition, and various relay races made their return to the Mac Gym’s court. The student government also voted to add an event from the last two events that were held at Strider Field: musical chairs.

“It was a little overwhelming because we had never experienced it, but it’s been joyous in a way because we’re going back to our original ways,” Hallberg said, noting that upperclassmen worked with freshmen at their orientation earlier this year to teach them a few of the events so that they weren’t “as surprised when Battle came around.”

“It was a good mix of the old and the new which represents our generation moving forward,” DeJoy said.

“We’re just really happy to be getting back to this event, which we’ve all longed and hoped for, as a way of instilling pride in our school and community,” Hallberg said.


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