ASHEBORO, N.C. -A third-grade class at Tabernacle Elementary School in Randolph County was announced Thursday as the winner of the North Carolina Zoo Society's "Pennies for Polar Bears" campaign, a project designed to let young students help raise funds to expand the N.C. Zoo's polar bear exhibit.

Of the 11 Randolph County and Asheboro City Schools participating in the fund-raiser, Ms. Dunn's class at Tabernacle raised the most money: $424.47. Tabernacle was also the school that raised the most money overall. As class winners, Dunn's students will receive a special behind-the-scenes tour at the zoo and the opportunity to meet the polar bears keepers.

During the month of October, the participating schools collected a total of $8,075.29, a number, according to Zoo Society Executive Director Russ Williams, that far exceeded expectations for the first year. The total reflected 296,317 pennies; 6,922 nickels; 9,808 dimes; 4,410 quarters; 29 gold dollars; 3 half dollars; and 1,423 in $1 bills.

An additional $1,129.68 was collected from a dunking booth at the Asheboro Fall Festival put on by students from the Asheboro High School Zoo School, who partnered with the Zoo Society on the project. An additional $100 was collected by Robbie Anderson, a Zoo School student who raised the money from his senior project.

The individual classrooms that raised the most money per school won an ice cream party. They were: Agape Elementary - Ms. Lennon's Class; Balfour Elementary - Ms. McCann's Class; Farmer Elementary - Ms. Beane's Class; Hopewell Elementary - Ms. Thompson's Class; Lindley Park Elementary - Ms. Rush's Class; New Market Elementary - Ms. Alley's Class; Ramseur Elementary - Ms. Warren's Class; Randleman Elementary - Ms. McAvinney's Class; Seagrove Elementary - Ms. McDonald's Class; Tabernacle Elementary - Ms. Dunn's Class; and Teachey Elementary - Ms. Bray's Class.

The North Carolina Zoological Society is a private non-profit organization that supports the North Carolina Zoo and conservation. The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee A. Freeman, Secretary; Bev. E. Perdue, Governor.