Parents and children were encouraged to write a letter to their favorite movie stars, singers, heroes, the President, or even a letter to Santa. The event not only promoted parents and children to develop their writing skills, but brought families closer together before the hectic holiday schedules began to roll in.
The PTO provided enough materials, gifts and stationery and stamps for over 700 children, and worked in tandem with the school’s current curriculum with third-grade students, who have just learned to mail and address letters.
“This is awesome,” said PTO member Angelica Reyes. “I’m so happy the kids get a chance to mail a real letter. Nowadays with the internet, not very many people write letters anymore. It’s become foreign, and I think it’s great that the kids can have fun with their parents while learning at the same time.”
Lisa Montgomery, head of the Wildcats’ PTO, said she wanted to start the event in Patterson after witnessing how well it was received at an elementary school in the Bay Area.
“The reason I like this event is because it is part of the literacy program, and it’s a perfect way to start the holidays,” said Montgomery. “The school has such a wonderful group of parents who have helped out.”
Montgomery also commended student efforts as well, noting that many of the older peers at Walnut Grove assisted in creating various posters of famous addresses, and provided a few of their own holiday decorations.
“I’m happy the older kids were involved,” said Montgomery. “They have a better idea who the younger kids would like to write to than us parents. It helps our efforts a lot.”
The Wildcats’ PTO also created their own post office with a card board cutout, which allowed many students the opportunity to physically mail their letter for the first time in their lives.
Parents were also met at the door with raffle tickets, which enabled many children to win various toys, games and coloring utensils every five to ten minutes. Decorations loomed overhead, and even a large inflatable snowman and tree were set near tables and benches for added holiday flair.
There was even a green cake with the Wildcats’ PTO address to look like an envelope, as well as a five dollar spaghetti dinner provided by parents from Walnut Grove and Creekside Middle School to raise money for the youths’ trip to Washington D.C.
“We hope to feed 200 people,” said Reyes. “We had 10 families working on the dinner, and each is contributing about four pounds of spaghetti apiece.”
As an added bonus, the PTO also provided a picture booth, complete with a series of costumes, including wigs, large sunglasses, pirate hats and large bow ties.
“Everything is free and fun,” said Montgomery. “It’s a great way to start the holiday season.”
The following Friday, Nov. 15, Apricot Valley Elementary presented their first Fall Festival, which garnered participation from hundreds of parents and local school children of all ages.
The quaint cafeteria was turned into a carnival, complete with hundreds of treats, prizes, and games. Rings were tossed, balls were thrown, faces were painted, and hungry patrons had more than their fair share of treats to choose from as parents and children corralled inside.
A large line from the front of the cafeteria to the kindergarten gates prompted anticipation from students and parents alike, and showcased the event’s success.
The original concept was manifested by Kristal Grimes, a fifth-grade teacher at Apricot Valley, as a way to build a positive relationship with the school’s parents, said Principal Jose Sanchez.
“I was blown away by the amount of support we received – not only from the teachers, but from the parents too,” said Sanchez, who worked the food booth Friday evening. “I was impressed with the level of communication we’ve had, and now we are seeing much more support from the parents. It’s great that we were able to bring together an event for community partnership.”
Though this is the first and only Fall Festival at Apricot Valley thus far, Sanchez noted that it won’t be the last. He later stated that the school will plan future events with the same concept for the end of the year, and will be located outside to prevent crowding.
“I’m planning to get a dunk tank,” said Sanchez. “I think the kids would want to dunk their principal.”
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.