SAE Project Turns into Annual Fundraiser


Kaylee Wood

Stars line a wall in the Commons area. The stars represent each person who donated money toward the lunch account angel fund.

To help students with negative food balances, sophomore Lillian Ottum sold stars for one dollar during October lunch as an SAE project.

There are great goals that are set for Ottum’s fundraiser. She’s hoping to improve the school and help out with the graduating class.

“I kind of want to get as close to eliminating as most of the seniors’ balance first because if they don’t have it all put in, they can’t really graduate, so I want to have all of the seniors’ lunch account money fixed,” said Ottum.

School cook Laurel Larson wishes no student has to suffer and would love to help out all students including the graduates, but that would end up being too hard for everyone eventually.

“I would say a little. I believe that the kids should get free lunch continuously. It’s not up to me. I would do it if I could, but I think it will be a little bit harder,” said Larson.

It is such a problem that Larson says the students are going to end up not wanting to eat at all.

“They’re just not going to want to come and eat lunch. Because the cost will be too much. We [don’t] turn anybody away for lunch now, but if it ever happens, the garden bar is always free,” said Larson.

Starting Lillian’s freshman year, she was looking for a project to help out the community and a friend brought up others’ negative food balances, which interested her.

“So, I was like talking to my friends and everything and then not even about [the project], but then they said something about lunch and lunch accounts and how when they were younger, they had a balance of, like, negative $300 in their lunch accounts. It’s a problem in our school that I am hoping to fix,” said Ottum.

Ag teacher Brad Markhardt says the project may not completely eliminate negative balances, but it will help.

“I really love how she’s just taken this and ran with it. She’s talking about how she wants to continue to do this throughout her years at high school. She hopes that she can encourage somebody else to continue the project in the future as well. She hopes that it can just become a part of what we do,” said Markhardt.

Markhardt thinks and is hoping that Ottum will make a big enough impact on this problem that when she graduates someone will take over.

“She was able to encourage and find enough people to help her out with it. I think that’s the same encouragement. Her positive attitude will help to encourage people to take this on,” said Markhardt.

Overall, Ottum has been successful with her fundraising and Markhardt is proud with her unique passion, specifically giving back to the community.

“You know, I’ve had students and students get passionate about many different things, but yeah, I’m hard-pressed to remember specifically [like] this lunch thing with helping other students in that capacity. That has been a very unique thing, a unique project. And yeah, one that I’ve definitely enjoyed watching Lillian grow,” said Markhardt.