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JFK Students Pie Teachers After Raising Money for the American Heart Association

A gym full of kindergarteners squealed in delight as one of their peers, Gunnar Maguire, smooshed a pie into physical education teacher Eric Buzzetto’s face. The pie tin stuck there and the moment Buzzetto peeled it off, students erupted into another round of giggles as they saw their teacher’s whipped cream covered face.

Maguire, a student in Kathy Brower’s class, earned the ability to pie the gym teacher of his choice by raising the most money in his grade for the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge. The pie in Buzzetto’s face came after a week of heart-related curriculum in gym class that included heart heroes, jump ropes, exercises, coloring, and learning. The mission of the challenge is to teach kids jump rope skills and about how their heart works as well as raising money to help children with heart disorders.

“We saw on Twitter through the American Heart Association that schools were promoting the Kids Heart Challenge by telling students that they could pie a teacher in the face,” physical education teacher Jennifer Hershman explained. She and Buzzetto decided to do the same. “It seemed to get the kids talking. We put signs around the school and they would pretend to pie us as they were walking down the halls.”

The bonus incentive worked. Students at John F. Kennedy Elementary raised more than $11,000, far exceeding their $7,000 goal. It also got students thinking and talking about heart health, which is great on its own but even more special since one of their classmates, first-grader Landon Perez, is an honoree chosen to represent children with congenital heart defects at the 2019 Putnam Heart Walk.

The American Heart Association’s Carissa Duro stopped in to let students know how much their fundraising meant.

“All of that money is going to help create medicine and help people who sometimes do not have healthy hearts — whether they’re born with them or sometimes get a sick heart as they grow older,” Duro said. “Thank you all so, so much. You’ve helped the American Heart Association and so many people with heart problems.”

While Maguire was happy to help with the $300 he raised, he was also really excited about throwing pie at Buzzetto.

“It was so much fun!” he said. He practiced all morning, perfecting his toss to make sure he got optimal face coverage. Hershman’s turn is next as the first and second-grade winners chose to throw pit at her later this week. First-grader Abigail Douglas raised $1,270 and second-grader Michael Callaro raised $300.

Mixed in with all of the fun were a few of Brewster’s Strategic Coherence Plan skills. To raise money, students had to use communication skills to speak with potential donors about why they were fundraising. They also worked on civic responsibility as they helped to make a difference in the lives of people with special hearts.