Lake Park students resurrect Cha Cha for Children

Each school year, the student body of Lake Park High School in Roselle finds creative and generous ways to demonstrate their philanthropic spirit. Lancer Nation has rallied around national causes like breast cancer awareness and even global causes by fundraising after natural disasters and collecting books for indigent children.

The heart and spirit of these efforts always begin with students, and that is exactly how Lake Park's historic dance marathon returned from a hiatus since 2012. A group of motivated junior class council members were looking at previous yearbooks when they discovered pictures of the Cha Cha for Children event during its inaugural year in February 2010.

The Lake Park school community rallied for this cause through a variety of efforts that included a dance marathon, music performances by teachers, karaoke, a silent auction, a local restaurant contributing sales and "Chop Chop for Children's" to benefit the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

The cause represented a personal one to several Lake Park staff members whose families have been impacted by the care and services of this world-renown national leader in health care.

In 2010, the one-day event exceeded expectations and raised more than $18,000 thanks to the participation of more than 200 students and 60 staff members who volunteered their time on a weekend.

Due to the logistics of planning such an ambitious school- and communitywide effort, the administration decided to host the event biannually.

Faculty and students responded in equally impressive ways with the March 2012 Cha Cha for Children, which benefitted not only Lurie Children's Hospital, but also the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Several staff members volunteered to have their heads shaved to challenge students to meet the fundraising goal of $16,000.

Following a hiatus in 2014, the Cha Cha returned Saturday, Feb. 27, with the same enthusiasm and an army of participants totaling more than 250 students and 20 staff members. Students' individual contributions of $20 to participate in four hours of high-energy activities and events helped students to gain an appreciation for the energy required by children and families who struggle daily with illness.

The "Chop Chop for Children" component of the festivities once again included several staff members who volunteered to have their heads shaved or hair donated to Locks of Love. These selfless acts demonstrate empathy while supporting remarkable organizations.

The 2016 Cha Cha for Children raised more than $11,000 - success that would not have been possible without the generous contributions of student involvement, business sponsors, faculty and staff members, families and community members.

I share these experiences to demonstrate how Lake Park's two campuses are so much more than bricks and mortar. The learning occurring outside the classrooms is equally as significant and dynamic as the learning inside the classrooms.

I'm proud of our Lancers who are leading the way with their responsible decisions to participate, contribute and give back in our school community and beyond.

• Lynne Panega is superintendent of Lake Park High School District 108. Her column runs monthly in Neighbor during the school year.

After a four-year hiatus, Lake Park students revived the Cha Cha for Children dance party to raise money for Lurie Children's Hospital. Courtesy of Lake Park High School District 108
Students and teachers share their talents - such as creating henna art - to help raise money at Lake Park's Cha Cha for Children. Courtesy of Lake Park High School District 108
At the Cha Cha for Children, Lake Park students hear first -hand stories about how Lurie Children's Hospital has helped families. Courtesy of Lake Park High School District 108
Tracy Fink of the Lake Park PE department has her head shaved to support the cause at the Cha Cha for Children. Courtesy of Lake Park High School District 108
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.