Miner Mania Service Event Brings PRA Community Together

Clear bins brimming with toiletry items lined the hallway in the K8 building at Prospect Ridge Academy in early February. The bright colors of the shampoo bottles and tubes of toothpaste filling the bins created a rainbow as members of the elementary, middle, and high school Student Councils worked to sort the travel-sized products. The buzz of activity occurred in preparation for PRA’s ninth Miner Mania, which is set for Feb. 15. This service-based tradition brings together PRA’s entire K12 community for a project that benefits the greater community.

April Wilkin, PRA’s executive director, said Miner Mania is a unique way that PRA lives out a part of the school’s mission and vision. PRA’s vision is “creating academic, social, and ethical leaders” while the last part of the mission statement says that PRA is “utilizing character education and service learning programs that encourage community partnerships. 

“We wanted to have an activity that focuses on service and spirit, in relation to our mission and vision,” Wilkin said. “We are shaping social and ethical leaders by doing a K12 service project. Our students get to be leaders in the broader community as we partner with other organizations and within the school community. The students leading the event are modeling leadership qualities as they guide other students throughout the event.”

Since it began in the spring of the 2014-2015 school year, Miner Mania has occurred each year, even during the years that the COVID pandemic was limiting the community gathering in person. In April 2021, Wilkin said the school partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation a second time to help purchase an RV for a child whose illness didn’t allow her to be around other people. Her family wanted to travel and have special experiences together and the RV allowed them to make those memories.

“That was a powerful year,” Wilkin said. “We were at a point during the pandemic where we needed something positive to focus on and our donations helped her get her wish. Our students were able to see the impact that had on Mia’s life as they shared photos with us of their travels.”

This year Miner Mania is partnering with the Denver Rescue Mission. Students donated toiletries which will be used to put together hygiene care kits during the Miner Mania activities on Feb. 15. This will be the first year since 2019 that the entire student body will be able to gather for the assembly in the gym. 

Miner Mania started nine years ago when PRA’s first Student Council, all freshmen, felt there needed to be a way to bring the whole community together. Wilkin said as PRA opened the high school, the community started to feel big and maybe a bit disconnected. 

“Student Council that year recognized the value in us coming together as a whole school,” she said. “They wanted to create a tradition for PRA and came up with Miner Mania as a connection point and then helped plan the events.”

The students were actively involved in planning the event and brainstormed what it should be called. Wilkin said they knew they wanted an alliteration and they considered Miner Mayhem and Miners on a Mission before deciding on Miner Mania.

“They looked up the definition and felt that mania was fitting,” she said. “The change in schedule and our whole community being together would cause our energy levels to be elevated and our activity level would definitely be different.”

In the spring of the 2014-2015 school year, our Miner student body gathered for the first Miner Mania in support of cancer awareness. Our elementary and secondary students buddied up and ate lunch together before going to the assembly and the activities in pairs. The activities included an awareness walk and a sidewalk chalk zone.

“At times we weren’t sure we could pull it off,” Wilkin said. “But as with so much in those early years of PRA, we had heart and dedication and a stick-to-itiveness that made it happen.”

As the school grew, so did the event. After raising cancer awareness the first year, the second year students learned about character traits and practiced service picking up trash. After the first two years, the event shifted to projects that are more hands-on through which kids are helping kids. Since 2016-2017, Miner Mania has helped Make-A-Wish twice, Foster Service, A Precious Child, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Colorado Refugee Connect, and this year the Denver Rescue Mission. 

“We intentionally partner with different charitable organizations each year,” Wilkin said. “We want to focus on our kids helping other kids. Through helping these organizations our kids see how other people their age are impacted by circumstances that make their lives different and sometimes hard.”

By Amy G. Partain
PRA Communication Manager

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