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Pulling a bus? No problem

A team of staff members from Voyager Elementary School tows a school bus in a timed event Friday as part of a United Way fundraiser. (Ross Evavold / Echo Press)1 / 6
The team from Discovery Middle School won the bus pull event Friday at Alexandria Area High School. (Ross Evavold / Echo Press)2 / 6
Jen Jabas, executive director of the United Way of Douglas & Pope Counties, thanks Alexandria School District staff for the funds they raised this year. (Ross Evavold / Echo Press)3 / 6
A team from Lincoln Elementary School pulls on a rope tied to a school bus as they try to post the fastest time during a United Way event. (Ross Evavold / Echo Press)4 / 6
Alexandria School District staff members cheer on a school team during the bus pull event Friday. (Ross Evavold / Echo Press)5 / 6
Melissa Firme (left) of Discovery Middle School and Jen Jabas of United Way show off how much money school district staff raised as part of the United Way campaign. (Ross Evavold / Echo Press)6 / 6

While Alexandria School District students were enjoying the first day of their summer vacations last Friday, guess what their teachers were doing?

If you guessed pulling a school bus, you are correct.

The United Way of Douglas & Pope Counties partnered with the Alexandria Public Schools to hold a bus pull event in the high school parking lot off of the performing arts center Friday morning.

Seven teams of up to 12 staff members tried their hand at using a rope to pull a school bus a defined distance in a timed exercise. The team from Discovery Middle School was declared the winner.

The event served as a pilot program for the United Way. Executive Director Jen Jabas had seen other agencies raise funds through a bus pull, and wanted to see how an event such as this would work here. It's possible the event could be expanded next year.

The bus pull was the culmination of a year of donations raised by staff members of the school district. The total from the annual United Way campaign presented to the nonprofit came to more than $26,000. That money will go to help fund the 26 agencies and 39 programs that receive grants from United Way, Jabas said, in addition to the dozen programs it offers in the area.