EDWARDSVILLE - As schools across the nation celebrated Catholic Schools Week, St. Mary’s School students in Edwardsville focused on the “Celebrate Our Community” theme. The students centered their efforts around a cause close to their hearts - the Nickel Plate Station.

The St. Mary's students raised $1,355 for The Nickel Plate Station restoration project.

The project has been a topic of interest among the junior high classes since English and history teacher, Debbie Caulk – an Edwardsville native and historian – introduced her eighth-grade class to the significance of this historic railroad station.

The students were immediately interested in this unique country railroad station that was built in 1883. The students have even decided to build a model of the station as their class architectural project this year. So, it was no surprise that the Student Council chose The Nickel Plate Station restoration project as the “Cash for Community” fundraiser recipient.

“I love seeing the students’ passion for their community in such a tangible way,” Caulk said of the Student Council’s support, “They learned about the Nickel Plate Station and understand the importance of educating the community about the history, geography, science, and transportation significance that it has for Edwardsville and Illinois.”

Caulk said the St. Mary’s Student Council members built cardboard train cars that served as the collection boxes for each class’ spare change to be donated to the restoration project spearheaded by the Edwardsville Community Foundation and the Children’s Museum. The project includes repairing, updating, and preserving the station as well as developing and installing interactive exhibits, historic displays, and educational materials.

Drew Villhard, St. Mary’s Student Council President, shared his excitement to raise so much money from a school-wide collection contest.

“Each day of Catholic Schools Week, I would update the classes on how much we’d raised and announce which class was in the lead,” Villhard said. “We hoped to raise enough ($500) to earn a commemorative Nickel Plate Spike, but we ended up raising $1,355 – enough to put our name on the Donor Wall and get two Children’s Museum memberships!”

Catholic Schools Week is an interesting time period for St. Mary’s students. Besides celebrating community with the Nickel Plate Station fundraiser, the students skated at the YMCA, held a Spelling Bee and Geography Bee, had dress-down days, played an all-school trivia game, conducted a Science Expo, competed in the annual school hockey tournament, and hosted an Open House.

For more information on the Nickle Plate Station, visit http://nickelplatestation.org.
For more information about St. Mary’s School, visit http://stmaryedw.org.

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