by Kirby LindsayThe evening of Saturday, March 5th, will be one of fun, food and entertainment. It may not be the most elegant of gatherings, but it will certainly overflow with fellowship as the B.F. Day Elementary School P.T.S.A. invites the school’s community – which includes all of Fremont - to attend Swellegant, at the Fremont Abbey Arts Center.
This “is a community builder first, and a fundraiser second,” according to Ingrid Emerick, the P.T.S.A. President. This annual party has, for many years, gathered together the parents, teachers, and staff of the school in a community celebration. Now, for the second year, they’ve been able to, with the move to the Abbey, invite the whole neighborhood. They’ve also moved the date from late spring to early March, the time that they once held a large fundraising auction.
All In Good Cause
Swellegant is “not quite as elaborate as the auction,” Emerick admitted. “The auction was very fun to attend,” she acknowledged, but “so much work fell on the shoulders of a few people.” For working parents, organizing the auction had become a huge undertaking. Also, “it was expensive to run,” she said, and a hard look at the net gains didn’t balance with the outlay.
Yet, the need for funds has hardly abated. The P.T.S.A. has long covered the costs of many programs not funded by the Seattle School District. Science and art programs depend upon the door charge, and a few auction items, from Swellegant.
The P.T.S.A. pays for a music teacher at the school, as well as the Art Corps and Pacific Science Center programs. They fund upkeep/maintenance of the school’s computer lab, and host school assemblies with visiting theatrical troupes. The 4th & 5th graders take an annual trip to Olympic Park Institute, thanks to donors, and a ‘Reading Is Fundamental,’ program distributes books for children who have none at home.
The P.T.S.A. offers grants to offset the out-of-pocket expenses of teachers and staff to buy classroom supplies. They also have a grant to pay for the Family Support Worker. The P.T.S.A. underwrites the chess club, and provides scholarships to 8-week after school enrichment classes that have taught yoga, mixed media art, theater with Stone Soup Theatre.
“Many of the kids would have no chance at these opportunities,” outside of school, Emerick explained. Some parents might be able to hire tutors or otherwise expose their children to these experiences, but not the majority. At B.F. Day, she pointed out, “we have a really diverse community.”
The P.T.S.A. also funds a ‘Writers In The School’ program, that brings a local writer in to work with the children on their creative writing skills. This year a poet has been working there, and Emerick related how one boy, in her son’s class, has shown an incredible aptitude for writing poetry – one no one expected given the child’s natural temperament.
“We’d like to beef up the sciences, math,” Emerick related, “and do more academic support.” They’d like to find ways to help teachers with expanding class sizes. The P.T.S.A. dreams of fixing up the school gym, with a convertible stage and, perhaps, a climbing wall, and fixing up the playground for the older kids.
Join The Fun
Swellegant is unlikely to fund any wish list items. Money raised on March 5th will go towards programs for next year. “I don’t think we are going to make enough money to get a new gym,” Emerick allowed, “but it’d be great if we did.”
The evening will include a small, silent auction – with Sounders and Mariners tickets, sailing trips, ‘Principal-For-A-Day,’ and smaller items – in addition to the food, the drinks and live jazz music that come with purchase of a ticket. The goal is to raise about $9000, to be added to money raised through other, modest efforts including the direct drive, Walk-N-Roll (walk-a-thon), a small e-scrip program, occasional bake sales and participation in the Ideal Network.
Everyone is invited to support the school, and enjoy the fellowship of others who want to see B.F. Day thrive. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $50, although in advance they cost $40 (staff pay $25) and can be acquired through the P.T.S.A. website (and PayPal.)
“Most people are pretty aware of the dire budget situation,” Emerick explained. Without fundraisers – and generous donations by the community – “there would be no music at B.F. Day,” she said. No music, art, sciences…and no more reason to come together and show our support for our kids at B.F. Day. See you there!
©2011 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.