PTO activities fund variety of school projects

PTO activities fund variety of school projects

Group hosting movie night Friday

March 6th, 2019 by Liz Morales in Local News

Six years after mending the fences on their friendship, "Wreck-It Ralph" and Vanellope come across a Wi-Fi router in their humble abode that doubles as an arcade. What they discover leads them through an adventure they never would have imagined.

This adventure and re-introduction to old friends will be shown at the next PTO Movie Night Friday at California Elementary School with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m. The movie will hit play at 7 p.m. This time around, the movie will help benefit the fifth-grade class.

While movie nights help to raise money for each grade, the PTO helps the elementary school in another way.

Kristen Everett, who handles the organization's finances, said the PTO created the Teacher Grant Program during the 2017-18 academic year with a specific goal in mind.

"The grant program furthers our goal of directing PTO resources to the classroom level where our financial support can have the most impact on students," Everett said.

A grant from the PTO can be used by a teacher to help fund a project, activity or even materials and supplies for classroom activities that can further push the school curriculum. These enhancements could be examples of materials that would not otherwise be funded through the traditional school or district budget.

Everett went on to say the grants are "competitively awarded with preference given to applications with goals that push the boundaries of standard school instruction or activity."

As of yet, $3,400 has been awarded to elementary school teachers through grants in their classrooms.

In the spring of 2018, the speech team was awarded funding to help purchase a 6 foot by 4 foot bulletin board to convert empty wall space in order to use space for learning materials; a fourth-grade classroom was able to purchase a USA floor puzzle and two Touch and Learn maps to help students name and locate specific regions, states, capitals and even river systems in the United States. The kindergarten team was able to buy a set of headphones for their individual Chromebooks that every student has access to, a preschool class was able to acquire STEM and sensory materials such as magnetic tile building blocks, Playfoam and water mats.

Kendra Hall, who teaches first grade at CES, has been reaping the benefits through the PTO with what she calls "flexible seating" for her students.

"Instead of traditional desks and chairs like we sat in as children, my students sit at tables of various heights," Hall said. "At the various tables are also different chairs, stools, exercise balls, scoop chairs and small circular pads that go on the floor. I explain to them at the beginning of the year that my classroom is similar to what it is like at home when (they) are doing their homework. Some students prefer sitting at the dining room table, while others lay on their belly in the middle of the living room."

Hall takes special care to make sure her students are responsible with their seating arrangements. With that, she also gives them the freedom to choose what seat will suit them comfortably for the duration of the day.

Every penny that is used for the grant program comes from fundraisers the PTO holds each year. The Me and My Special Guy Dance that was held Feb. 2 raised over $1,200, for example. The other fundraisers the PTO puts on are Tough Pumpkin and Disney Trivia Night, which will be held April 27. Proceeds from T-shirt sales and the fundraisers help to fund gifts to the school, movie license fees and school supplies.

As for the monthly movie nights, those funds go toward the respective grade level that will be honored for that particular night. Everett said, "Some grades buy things as a grade level and others just divide it up evenly between the teachers."

Along with funding that comes through the grants and movie nights, the PTO is always receiving gifts from local businesses. This action is always greatly appreciated from members of the PTO.

"We always like to thank our local business community who give so generously to all of our fundraising events," Everett said.