2011-2012 Team Up Challenge Champions

(SAN ANTONIO) — Trying to hide the larger than life-size Coyote and T-Bone from students at Peterson Middle School was quite the task for San Antonio’s Silver Dancers and Ice Girl early Friday morning. As Silver & Black Give Back’s surprise squad sneakily tiptoed into the middle school’s student filled gymnasium, a collective and deafening roar erupted. The staged school assembly was actually a ploy to surprise one of the 2011-12 Team Up Challenge Champions - Peterson Middle School Soul Mates.

After giving an oral presentation on their project to a panel of reviewers earlier this week at the AT&T Center, Soul Mates was one of the five winning groups chosen from a pool of 20 to be named a 2011-2012 Team Up Challenge Champion. Today they were awarded with a check for $20,000 to help develop and expand their project in ways they dreamed of all school year.

A similar scene played out as the four other champions were surprised in class by Coyote and the gang and presented with a $20,000 check for their projects.

The 2011-12 Team-Up Challenge Champions are as follows, in random order:

Harlandale High School PAWS club rescues stray animals in their neighborhood. With the help of the Team Up Challenge seed money, they created two satellite clubs called PAWS Partners and PAWS Pals at Harlandale Middle School and Gilbert Elementary School, respectively, to help educate their peers on responsible pet ownership. They have spayed/neutered, micro-chipped and vaccinated 52 stray animals over the past two years. With the $20,000 award they plan to expand the program to other middle and elementary schools is their district, pay off their vet bill, host spay/neuter clinics at their school and sponsor a mobile spay/neuter van for their district.

Peterson Middle School Soul Mates began with the goal to educate their community on the issue of hunger. They raised $1,500 with an online Bowls for Souls auction, and used the money to bring the San Antonio Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry to Kerrville for the first time. They have raised enough funds to ensure the Mobile Food Pantry will travel to Kerrville six more times this year. Soul Mates also hosted a Hope on Holdsworth food drive where they lined 1.3 miles of Holdsworth with food items. Every week the group decorates bags with words of encouragement for their local food pantries to hand out to recipients. With the $20,000 Peterson Middle School’s Soul Mates will continue to support their local food pantries and continue the inspiring Soul Mates program.

Randolph High School’s Student Council learned the number one cause of teen death in the United States is automobile accidents. They set out to change that statistic by creating DriveSMART, a program that discourages distracted driving. They hosted a “No Text While Driving” pledge, which obtained over 2,000 signatures, and worked to create a brand that their peers would embrace. To that end, the student council handed out thumb rings to remind their peers no to text while driving, hosted a “Black Out” Pep Rally to illustrate the dangers of drinking and driving and sent out a school newsletter each month with information on how to reduce distractions while driving. With the $20,000 champion award, the student council will award DriveSMART grants to other local high schools that would like to start the program at their schools, as well as maintain the program at Randolph High School for the coming years.

Students of Ms. Boyce’s 2nd grade class at Rogers Elementary School all have one unique thing in common: they are all planning to be the first in their family to attend college. They hosted College Night at their school with over 200 people in attendance, including Mayor Julian Castro. During College Night the students did college-focused activities such as College Bingo with different schools while parents had the chance to learn more about how to plan for their child’s future. The class took a field trip to UT Austin to learn more about college, and as a result, 10 of the students in the class now have brand new college savings accounts. With the $20,000 Ms. Boyce’s 2nd grade class wants to bring College Night to other elementary schools in SAISD and create a College Corner in their library so everyone can learn about the importance of continuing education.

Watts Elementary School’s “We Serve Too” group is made up of students who have family members deployed over the course of the school year. The group provides students with friends who experiencing the same thing, and creates a network of support at a school with a heavy military population. The students hosted a toy drive for children in Afghanistan who have been victims of the conflict and are currently in military hospitals. They collected over 200 stuffed animals, 200 boxes of crayons and 200 coloring books. With the $20,000 the group plans to make Fly-Away Bags for service men and women leaving on deployment, create a scholarship through Operation Homefront, maintain the club at Watts Elementary School and expand to the other seven elementary schools in the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City school district.

The Team Up Challenge Champions will be recognized during half time at the Spurs vs. Suns game this Saturday, April 14 and again at the Rampage vs. Aeros game this Sunday, April 15.

To see pictures and videos from each surprise visit, make sure to visit Silver and Black Give Back on Facebook at, facebook.com/SilverBlackGiveBack. For more information about the Team Up Challenge, please visit teamupchallenge.com.

About Team Up Challenge
The Team Up Challenge is a service-learning program that allows children to apply what they are learning in the classroom to the real world, bringing education alive in powerful ways. Through these service-learning projects students are empowered to change the world, starting right here in San Antonio. The initiative spans 24 school districts. Students create projects in one of five categories: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment, Health & Wellness or Uniformed Services.