Marion Kindergarteners learn civic engagement with special project

Marion Officer Aaron Slater and Blue, the new drug dog for the department, pose with the Marion Elementary School kindergarteners. The class collected coins to help with the purchase, care and trainings of the new K-9 for the city of Marion. They are learning about civic engagement and enjoyed the opportunity to be involved. Laura Fowler Paulus / Free Press
Marion Officer Aaron Slater and Blue, the new drug dog for the department, pose with the Marion Elementary School kindergarteners. The class collected coins to help with the purchase, care and trainings of the new K-9 for the city of Marion. They are learning about civic engagement and enjoyed the opportunity to be involved. Laura Fowler Paulus / Free Press
It’s not everyday that you get to help out your community is a big way, but the students at Marion Elementary School recently got to do exactly that.

“Coins for a K-9 was a Civic Engagement Project created by the Kindergarten grade level at MES. The Kindergarten students asked the whole Elementary school to collect coins for one week,” said Kindergarten teach Jessica Ensley.

Each grade level had their own container to fill with change or even bills if they wanted to. The contest was to see which grade level could raise the most money . The class that raised the most money had the opportunity to meet the new K-9 in the Marion Police Department for a meet and greet time.

The school raised a grand total of $1277.00 for the police department. The funds will be used toward the purchase and additional care and trainings of the K-9.

“The contest was close and each grade level had a significant contribution. The winning grade level ended up being Kindergarten with $360.02,” said Ensley.

The class got to meet with the new dog, Blue, and her officer Aaron Slater. Blue is a nine month old Belgian Malinois. She is certified to detect narcotics. Blue and Slater completed their training in Omaha Nebraska at Code K9 services and they are now working on tracking.

The students learned about the different ways the dog would assist the police officers.

“This opportunity allowed students to give back to our community and to know that they played a role in assisting our Marion Police Department,” said Ensley.

The school presented the money to Marion Chief of Police Clinton Jeffery, Officer Steven Janzen and Officer Aaron Slater.

“Honestly, we were astonished with the community’s support as a whole. We figured the community would rally around this idea, but never dreamt it would have happened this fast. We appreciate the schools effort with making this possible and Mr. Brad Yazel with Yazel, Megli and Zeiner Funeral Homes for matching the amount raised by the Elementary School. It would not have been possible without all the donors,” said Jeffrey. “A huge thanks from Assistant Chief Steven Janzen, Officer Duane McCarty, Officer Zach Hudlin, “K9” Officer Aaron Slater and I.”

MES Principal Justin Wasmuth was proud of his students for all of their hard work.

“They put that all together, and they did tremendous with it,” said Wasmuth. “They got to take the money down to Tampa State Bank to have all of the coins counted so they got that aspect, too.”