GREENFIELD — Outside Jennifer Deno’s kindergarten classroom hangs a bright orange sign that reads, “We are 100 days smarter.”
It’s a message echoed throughout the school this week in recognition of the 100th day of school, which Weston students celebrated with much fanfare on Wednesday.
Students donned special hats, made goodies to take home and worked on a variety of projects to commemorate the milestone.
One of the most notable efforts was a canned food drive to benefit the Hancock County Food Pantry.
Students in each class were challenged to bring in food, and teachers, in turn, incorporated the service project with their lessons by having students track the number of items coming in and talk about how many more were needed to reach the 100-can goal.
By Wednesday, students had brought in a total of 854 cans.
“They’re very excited to be bringing something in,” said Deno, who organized the food drive. “They’ve got smiles on their face. They know that they’re helping out.”
Most of the youngsters, including Weston kindergartner Gavin Wagoner, turned to their relatives for help.
“Grammy, she brung in a bag of cans,” said Gavin, 6. “We are gonna give them to people that have no food or homes.”
Marking the 100th day of school with a special celebration provides a chance to re-engage students, especially those in younger grades who are still learning beginning math and counting concepts, teachers say.
The anticipation is also part of the fun.
“It’s one of those things where, because we talk about it from the beginning of the school year, … they know when the 100th day is coming,” kindergarten teacher Heidi Morris said.
When it comes to counting, Ava Ruster, 6, has her eyes on the end of the school calendar. Reaching day 100 means summer is one step closer.
“We only have 80 more days,” she said.
Kersey Hudson, 6, said the 100th day celebration is clearly hard work for the teachers who plan ahead to make the day special.
And students’ excitement can sometimes get out of hand, she admits.
“Everybody’s all happy because it’s the hundredth day, and they keep telling them, ‘Calm down,’ but they won’t,” she said.
Teachers and students across the county embraced the chance to incorporate a numerical milestone into their lesson plans.
Sugar Creek Elementary School celebrated its 100 days of school Friday, Friday Principal Tony Strangeway said. School officials tailored the events to the kindergartners and first graders.
Strangeway was personally involved in some of the celebrating. He read a story to the entire first grade in the cafeteria, which was followed by the students enjoying cake as a reward for making it to the 100th day.
One of the traditions at New Palestine Elementary is to dress up using 100 items as an accessory, Principal Mark Kern said.
Kern enjoys seeing the kids’ creativity each year.
“One hundreds stickers, 100 lollipops, 100 fruit loops – you name it, and the kids may have done it,” he said.
The 100th day of school at Eastern Hancock was low-key with students working on small projects to celebrate the day.
Some decorated T-shirts, for example, and others brought in 100 of their favorite items.
Reporters Kristy Deer and Maribeth Vaughn contributed to this report.