Ocean Palms Elementary School receives recognition for ‘Change for a Change’ youth-led campaign


Ocean Palms Elementary School recently received a Family and Community Involvement Award from Superintendent Tim Forson in recognition of the school’s “Change for a Change” campaign.

Presented at the St. Johns County School District Outstanding Volunteers Reception, the award recognized OPE’s youth-led service group Small Steps for organizing the fundraiser, which raised nearly $15,000 for the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach’s “Sound Connections” music therapy program. In addition, the group raised more than $1,500 for the Special Olympics. Ponte Vedra High School sophomore and Small Steps member Claire Fodor served as the team’s primary leader for the nine-month project, working in collaboration with OPE students and school Principal Jessica Richardson.

To raise money, the group conducted four different presentations for sports club boards, wrote 40 letters and 400 emails, held phone conferences, coordinated with nonprofit organizations and business partners, created project materials and baked cookies.

The local sports community embraced the project, including the boards and athletes from Jacksonville Armada Youth Academy, Ponte Vedra Soccer Club, Ponte Vedra Lightning softball and Ponte Vedra Athletic Association. In addition, the group received support from the cultural center, Lazzara Family Foundation, Lazzara Orthodontics, Special Olympics, VyStar Credit Union, Napoli’s Pastaria, Publix, Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, the Wicker family, the Masto family and David Proehl.

The Family and Community Involvement Award is presented to one elementary school and one secondary school each year for their efforts to increase family involvement, welcome families into the local school system, provide effective communication, support student success and promote collaboration within the community.