Annual PTO Winter Festival at Toliver raises funds to promote learning

December 08, 2003|EMILY TOADVINE

It's events like the annual Winter Festival at Toliver Elementary School that aid in improving acoustics in the historic building's high-ceiling rooms. Funds raised through this PTO event also made the difference when second-graders recently took a field trip to Centre College to see John Hankla's collection of dinosaur artifacts. The pupils were able to use a digital camera to record their visit and make displays.

This fund-raiser helps the faculty make improvements at the school and buy equipment such as the camera.

Jane Brantley, who is a speech language pathlogist at the school, says the PTO funds have aided with purchasing the equipment to improve sound quality in the classrooms.

"With the equipment, the teacher doesn't have to raise his or her voice. They can be heard clearly at any place in the classroom. The teacher wears a microphone and there's a pass-around microphone the students can use," says Brantley, whose goal is to amplify all the school's classrooms. She says that the amplification equipment improves learning in all classrooms, not just ones with high ceilings.


The school's PTO is proud to aid learning, says Lauren Serey, who is PTO co-president with Julie Graham.

"The biggest thing is we give it back to the teachers in the form of mini-grants," says Serey.

With $5,000 raised at last year's event, the teachers can expect a few mini-grants to be available. Serey attributes the large amount of funds to the ever-popular $750 gift certificate to Wal-Mart. With a long list of items donated for a silent auction and chances being sold on the Wal-Mart shopping spree, Serey expects this to be another successful year. Items at the silent auction include gift certificates to restaurants, clothing stores, scrapbook classes, fitness programs, movie rentals and even a savings bond.

In addition, each grade creates a themed gift basket for the auction. Some of those themes are: kindergarten, children's art; Amy Butler's class, Fashion Polly's and Hulk; Carol Reynolds' class, "Let It Snow"; Lisa Denny's class, "Books, Books, Books"; Keith Madill's class, baking; Ruth Hammons' class, muffin time; Carolyn Spalding's class, warm winter nights; Hollie Wagner's class, pets; Sandy Richards' class, Spongebob; Heather Gover and Ron Ballard's class, University of Kentucky basketball; Cindy Stallard's class, family game nights; and John Erwin's class, project basket.

A new design of the school mascot, a St. Bernard named Oliver, will be unveiled on T-shirts and sweatshirts at this year's event. The 290 children at the school can wear the shirts as part of the school uniform. A parent, Alison Craig, designed the new Oliver.

Graham thinks this St. Bernard looks more cheerful.

"Our other Oliver was very sad," she says.

The parents hope to have a lot of other events to appeal to children. They can decorate their own dough Christmas ornaments and make candy pixie sticks.

A special shop with inexpensive items for children to buy is off limits to adults. Nick Serey and Joseph Muth were pleased with the whoopee cushions they selected for their dads last year at the Holiday Shoppe. Ellie Graham found quite a few items to surprise her mom last year.

"I got her a little coin purse and a little jewelry box and a candle," says Ellie, who is a fifth-grader.

Ellie says playing games and participating in the cake walks are two of her favorite parts of the festival.

The jail is another favorite of the children, Graham says.

"They can put their teacher in for 50 cents or so," she says.

The December event is the school's big fund-raiser, but it is one of three that the PTO is permitted to sponsor each year. About 92 children participated in gift wrap sales. In the spring, fund-raising and academics combine for a spellathon or mathathon. For instance, the children have 50 words to spell or math problems to work and take pledges.

"However many they get right, they get paid for," says Serey.

Serey, who has an older son who attends Bate Middle School, and Graham, who also is the mother of twin third-graders, Jack and Will, think that Toliver works hard to keep the PTO active. Each Thursday, a PTO packet goes home with the children to keep parents informed.

"The last few years, we've had a much higher involvement," Serey says.

Having the support of parents and grandparents makes all the difference, she says.

"We're trying to get more parents involved because they have great ideas."

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