HOLDEN, Mass. — Dodge balls were flying and students were ducking, dipping and diving to avoid elimination at Mountview Middle School's annual Dodgeball Tournament on Wednesday, with this year's event raising money for a Classic Car Show in memory of former student Jake Bratkon.
"It's a fun time for us to get together as a school, and have some friendly competition with one another," said Erik Githmark, principal of Mountview Middle School.
The event is organized by the Kids in the Kommunity, National Junior Honor Society and Mountview Student Council, and raises funds for a different cause every year, with last year's proceeds going to help those affected by the Tsunami in Japan.
"What I love about this is that this brings kids together," the principal added. "They're on school property and they're obviously having a blast doing it — so it adds to the culture of the school and adds to the sense of belonging, and that feeds off when they go to the classroom. It brings the school together in a unified way."
From the Ligers and Terminators, to Team Globo Gym and the Stud Muffins, kids chose their own teams and many designed their own uniforms to wear as they went head-to-head in the gymnasium — all eager to knock out the opposition and become tournament champions.
"It's very competitive, but I like the fact that you see different kids from different grades together, and boys and girls — they can pick whoever they want, and that's part of what makes it really fun for them," said Githmark.
This year, the competition raised $850 for the Bratkon Family, which will be used to fund an Antique Car Show that will be held at Mountview later this Spring.
In September, Bratkon, 18, of Lowell Road in Holden, was killed in a car accident in Princeton while driving home from Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, where he studied Auto Body.
Bratkon was a also dedicated member of his youth group at Faith Baptist Church in Auburn, through which he was involved twice in mission trips to the Dominican Republic.
As a former student of Mountview, it was decided that this year's dodgeball tournament would go toward remembering one of their own and continuing some of the projects that were near and dear to Bratkon.
In attendance were his parents, Tom and Patty Bratkon, as well as his siblings and some of his friends.
"I think he would have loved to have something like this, just to raise money to do the car show, and to raise money for other things," said his mother, Patty. "He loved cars, and he loved helping people. When he went to the Dominican the first time, he sold his Nintendo Wii in order to raise the money for his trip. And then the second time, he sold his Xbox, so he was all about figuring out ways to raise money, and I think he would have thought this was great."
In fact, this Saturday the Bratkon family will leave for the Dominican to continue a project that Jake had begun. With the help of some work done by the Auto Body shop at Monty Tech, they will decorating buses with a picture he had designed.
"That was a dream that he had, just to bring cheer to the people down there when they see this coming by on the buses," said Patty.
Although the car show was already in its planning stages at the time, Patty explained that her daughter had found a homework assignment in Jake's backpack about raising money for kids in the Auto Body field, as well as kids in the Dominican Republic.
This spring, Jake's idea will come to fruition at his former middle school, and the event will feauture a wide variety of vehicles, "from antique to classic, motorcycles, specialty, race cars — there are going to be all kinds of cars there," said Patty.
Furthermore, Tom Bratkon explained that the event will be more family oriented than most car shows, and so will consist of activities that will appeal to the whole family.
Proceeds from the car show itself will raise money for a memorial fund in Jake's name, which will go toward a scholarship for Auto Body students, as well as to help send students to the Dominican Republic.
The Classic Car Show is in its planning stages, and residents that would like to help can contact Kids in the Kommunity's Robert Champlin at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling him at 508-963-3186