South Salem HS students wage Penny War to benefit teacher fighti - KPTV - FOX 12

South Salem HS students wage Penny War to benefit teacher fighting cancer

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It's never easy when someone learns a person they know has been diagnosed with cancer, but that was the news a local high school teacher had to tell her students.

Breast cancer has kept Kimberly Miller away from her classroom, but when she returned Thursday to say hello, students showed their support in a big way.

To say South Salem High misses Miller would be an understatement. While she was battling breast cancer, her students were busy planning a big surprise using pennies.

For more than a week, the students have been taking part in Penny Wars, an idea of senior Olivia Wolf.

“I wanted to let her know that we cared and she wasn't alone in this struggle, that she didn't have to face this all by herself,” Wolf said. “She has 2,000 of us right behind her.” 

Wolf came up with the plan to pit classroom against classroom. They collected pennies, with each penny equaling a positive point.

Negative points were awarded for any other coin or dollar bills, so students and teachers would put bigger amounts in other classes' jars, which in turn brought in more money.

“As soon as people started to see who was in first, second and third… then competition aspect took place,” Wolf said. “People really, really got involved.”

In all, the students and teachers raised about $1,100 for miller's medical bills, presenting her the money Thursday and welcoming her back in a sea of pink.

The beloved teacher was floored by the outpouring of support shown by the school and her students.

"Truly it means everything,” Miller told FOX 12. “You feel really isolated when you're going through chemo, and the fact that I have this crew back here rooting for me really means everything."

School officials said the penny war isn't over. They hope to raise $11,000 by the end of the semester.

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