Dedicated Students Decide the Destiny of $671

William Brown, Staff Writer/Editor-in-Chief

Theresa DiGeronimo, an English III and Journalism teacher at Hawthorne High School, held a courtroom debate in her first period English class to discuss the destiny of $671 raised in 2011 for “Pennies for Peace.” The courtroom involved a split classroom:  one side desiring to give the money to the “Pennies for Peace” charity (its original purpose) and the other side desiring to send it to a less controversial charity for the education of children.

“Pennies for Peace” is a charity dedicated to building schools in the Middle East for children who are not fortunate enough to afford a teacher. Greg Mortenson, the creator of the CAI (Central Asia Institute) and the charity, traveled through Pakistan after a failed attempt to climb the world’s second highest mountain K2. He then wrote the book Three Cups of Tea to explain his experiences building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan hoping to promote education as an alternative to terrorism. This book has been required reading by U.S. military personnel, many universities, and Hawthorne High School junior students.

The classroom dispute was over whether the charity is a worthy choice or if the money should go to a more reliable one. Both sides disputed the destination of the money as a six-person jury of students listened carefully to both sides. The reason for the debate was the release of a 60-Minutes news report in April 2011. The report claimed that false information was given in Mortenson’s book Three Cups of Tea and that money donated to the charity is mishandled.

After a week of research and debate, the jury’s decision was unanimous that the money should be sent to “Pennies for Peace.” The girls who organized the school’s participation in the charity last year—Madison Cornett, Shea Costello, Jenna Doller, and Jackie Hascup—were told the outcome of the debate and agreed that the money should be sent to “Pennies for Peace.”