When a playground at the was deemed unsafe and torn down last year, fifth-grader Kristijan Barnjak knew he wanted to do something to help his school and his classmates who were saddened by the loss. When Barnjak heard about the Dannon Danimals Rally for Recess Campaign on television last August, he knew he found a way to help.
At the beginning of the school year, Barnjak wrote a letter to his principal Debra Emmerich asking if the school could enter the national contest. When she agreed, Barnjak worked with the PTA, Student Council and others to help win the $20,000 prize for a playground makeover and an all-day recess party.
Barnjak made posters and flyers, put information up on websites and made daily announcements on the school’s public address system reminding his classmates to log onto the contest website and enter their codes from the Danimals yogurt packaging to gain points for the school.
To gain even more points, Barnjak led an envelope-stuffing and stamping campaign to mail in codes from the Danimals cardboard packaging. Since the rules of the contest allowed only one piece of cardboard per envelope, many stamps and envelopes were needed. As a result, Barnjak began a Manor Stamp Drive, asking his peers to donate one stamp each.
“If everyone in the school brought in one stamp we would gain another 1000 points,” Barnjak explained.
With thousands of points to its credit, the school was a top contender. Barnjak rallied for a last surge of support to put the school in the top spot before the Feb. 8 deadline. In the end, Seaford Manor School, with more than 25,000 points,fell just short of victory to another school that earned 26,610 points.
Despite the loss, Emmerich said she was very proud of Barnjak's effprts.
"He sets a great example for everyone in the school," she said. "He always has the wheels turning; always looking for ways to improve the world and help others. He’s a natural leader who leads by example.”
Barnjak said if the school won, he hoped for a playground with swings, because the old one did not have them, and that it would be green and white to symbolize Seaford’s school colors.
“It’s all about Seaford Pride,” he said.