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Mayfield team wins Coin War at Ripon High
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History was made in Robert Mayfield’s history classroom, and it started with a dare.

When the Ripon High department teacher approached his students about the annual Coin War fund-raiser, the terms of the challenge were simple:

Can you top 2013?

“All I did was tell them what my kids did last year. I think we raised $1,015 last year,” said Mayfield, who has six periods of instruction. “This year, I wanted to break that.”

Turns out, the challenge wasn’t much of one at all.

The month-long, campus-wide Coin War drew to a close last week with much of the buzz surrounding the money generated by the students in the Social Studies department. For the second year in a row, Mayfield’s class was the top producer with $2,122.71, eclipsing their 2013 total in a matter of days.

Four, to be exact.

“Kids respond to competition,” said Mayfield, also the school’s tennis coach, “and I thought it made it a lot more fun.”

Proceeds from the Coin War benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. 

Last year, Ripon was one of 653 schools in the Greater Sacramento and Northern Nevada areas to participate in Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Pennies for Patients program. Of those hundreds of schools, Ripon ranked second among high schools with $2,928.28. 

An exact total for this year’s event hasn’t been released, but Ripon High Activities Director Jill Mortensen said the school once again generated more than $2,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Mayfield said the program’s success is attributed to a student body that understands the importance of charity. He said it would be easy for students, particularly teenagers, to think only of themselves.

Not so at Ripon High, where in three years the student body has raised more than $5,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Last year, the students fund-raised in honor of the younger brother of then-senior Tyler Swortfiguer. Joey Schnietman was only 3 when he lost his battle with blood cancer.

This year, campus leaders reached out to the community, soliciting help from area businesses such as Pizza Plus, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Friend’s Salon and Subway.

None of them could keep pace with Mayfield’s class.

Mayfield said he gave his students no incentive to donate. He didn’t make promises of a pizza party or extra credit. He merely offered them a friendly challenge.

“I think it’s cool to do something for people in need and not get anything in return. That’s how I sold it to my kids. It’s the power of giving and nothing about yourself for a few moments out of the day,” he said. “It’s natural to be selfish, but it’s tougher to step back and think others.”

Mayfield was surprised by the total, a majority of which came directly from his students’ pockets. Mayfield only matched his students’ daily total once, offering to contribute $50 for every class that raised at least $50. That day, Mayfield was on the hook for $250.

“At that age, $5 or $10 is a lot of money for high school kids. We had kids dropping $20 bills. One kid brought a check in from his mom for like $25. We had some who gave well over $50 or $60,” he said. “These kids really influence each other. Sometimes it’s bad, but sometimes it’s for good like this.”