Miss America, meet 'Miss Mission': Regina High contest emphasizes spirit of giving

Sophomores Brooke Browne, left, and Maggie Pietz, were named co-winners of Regina High School's 2018 "Miss Mission" competition after the pair raised $664 to support missionary efforts in Ashley Ackerman's third-hour theology class. The school has been conducting the annual contest for more than 20 years. (Photos courtesy of Regina High School)

Warren school's competition raises record $4,438 while teaching students value of helping others

WARREN — A friendly classroom competition at Regina High School in Warren not only raised a record-setting level of donations this month; it also fostered an appreciation for mission work and even possible future missionaries.

In anticipation of World Mission Sunday, Oct. 21, the all-girls school conducted a weeklong “Miss Mission” contest to raise funds for missionary endeavors.

The school has been conducting the annual competition for the past 20 years. This year, the contest took place Oct. 1-5 in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day is Oct. 4. St. Francis of Assisi is the secondary patron of the school through the school's sponsors, the Sisters of St. Joseph, Third Order of St. Francis. This year’s theme, “It is in giving that we receive,” was taken from the well-known Prayer of St. Francis.

The competition is essentially a fundraising contest: Each third-hour class designates a “Miss Mission” to drum up support and encourage classmates to donate to the missions. The class that brings in the most donations receives a pizza party, and its student captain is crowned “Miss Mission” for the entire school.

This year, the school has two “Miss Missions”: Brooke Brown and Maggie Peitz, both 15-year-old sophomores, who led their class in raising the largest amount, $664. The two students won in a tie-vote for the honor and thus jointly organized the effort in teacher Ashley Ackerman’s theology class.

Brown and Peitz both spoke of their interest in helping others, and both have helped at local food pantries. Brown is hoping to one day serve in the Peace Corps with her sister, Callyn.

“We like the whole idea of traveling the world, helping others,” Brown said. Professionally, she’s considering careers in either real estate or becoming a firefighter like her father.

Likewise, Peitz has also been influenced to consider mission work, though she has not yet made specific plans.

“One of my friends went on a mission trip, and it sounded really great,” Peitz said. “I like the idea of helping kids who are less fortunate.” She is considering a future career as a school counselor.

During Miss Mission Week, each class kept a running total of donations and used “fervent appeals and not a small amount of bribery,” to encourage donations, including home-baked cookies, cupcakes, candies, milkshakes and other treats. Parents made trips to local stores to buy more treats to drive donations, with the competition heating up by mid-week.

“The first day, we had had only raised $15,” Peitz said. “The next day we raised over $100, and it just kept growing from there.”

Brown said the most difficult part of the effort was making sure everyone participated, but as competition wore on, everyone was fired up.

Regina High School's 2018 "Miss Mission" nominees pose with a statue of the Blessed Mother at the Warren school. In total, students at the school raised $4,438 in five days to support missions at home and abroad.

This year, the school raised an unprecedented $4,438 in five days, with Ackerman’s class donating the largest amount, $664. One other class also raised more than $600, and three others raised more than $500 each. According to school administrators, the total equates to approximately $26-$30 donated per student.

Brown and Peitz will work with the other Miss Missions (seniors Lauren Carroll and Arianna Hill, juniors Isabella Denier and Xitlaly Orzechowski, sophomores Claire Dudek and Abbigayle Lemons and freshmen Nadia Sokol and Gabrielle Spagnuolo) to recommend which charities will benefit from this year’s donations.

Some funds will be donated to Operation Smiles, an organization that helps babies born with cleft palates and/or lips to receive the surgery they need. In previous years, Miss Mission donations were passed on to the PIME Missionaries, St. Clare School in Haiti, Friends of Kenya, a school in Africa, three literacy centers in Detroit and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s after-school children’s program.

Regina principal Ann Diamond said while students enjoyed the perks of competing, “they were all really driven to help.”

“There was the prize for free pizza, but in the end, no one was really motivated by that,” Diamond said.  “To raise that much money in only four days is something. I can’t be more proud of them.”