Then there are people like Annie Bair. When Annie learned that her school in the Portola Valley School District was facing larger class sizes, a shorter school year, and other hardships because of a fiscal crisis that caught the school community by surprise, she decided she had to be part of the district's team of problem-solvers.
At the June 20 school board meeting, where she was publicly recognized for raising $1,250 for the district by organizing and managing a car wash, she told the board: "Most of my teachers were telling me ... to try to make a change. With the situation that we're in, (I thought it would be) a good idea to make a change for our school."
Annie, who is 13 and will be an eighth-grader at Corte Madera School in August, said in an interview that when she learned about the district's problems, which have resulted in $2.1 million in spending cuts for the next school year, "I thought I could help."
She went to Corte Madera Principal Michael Corritone and "presented some business proposals — I had lots of ideas." Among them: a fundraising event like a picnic, a garage sale, and an art event in which kids would make and sell art.
With Mr. Corritone's help, she decided on a car wash because the end of the school year was fast approaching and such a project would be easiest to plan and carry out, she said.
At that point, "Annie went with it 110 percent," Mr. Corritone told the board during the recognition. "She organized the whole thing," including the advertising and gathering the work force.
"She showed so much maturity," he said, calling her a "model for our kids" and the whole school community.
Board President Scott Parker commended Annie for her work, saying that "it's especially gratifying to hear you say this is what you're learning in school."
"The change is noted," he said.
Among those Annie enlisted to help out with the June 2 event, held on the Corte Madera campus, were her parents, Lisa and Steve Bair, and her brother Ryan. About two dozen students pitched in, washing more than 100 vehicles for $10 apiece, Annie said, adding that some people donated extra money for the service.
Also contributing to the success of the five-hour event was Ron Ramies, owner and operator of Portola Valley Fuel, who donated supplies and paid for two professionals to give the kids a welcome hand, Annie said.