The biggest PTA bash in the state
Sep 18, 2018 02:15PM
● By Jana Klopsch
Community members experience the view from a monster truck. (Jet Burnham\City Journals)
Is Jordan Hills Elementary’s PTA party the largest in the state? That’s how their enthusiastic PTA board promotes it.
“I am 99 percent sure that’s true,” said “fun-raiser” coordinator Aaron Wilhelm. “As far as we know, no other PTA does anything like this.”
The party, held Sept. 10, was so big that it was held in the parking lot of Copper Hills High School to be able to accommodate the inflatable obstacle course and a pirate ship for young scallywags to explore. There were also emergency vehicles, monster trucks, hot rods and muscle cars. Families danced to music and sampled food from three food trucks. Children talked with superheroes, posed with Darth Vader and hugged Disney princesses. Copper Hills’ marching band performed a demonstration.
To raise funds for its annual budget, the PTA asked for a $30 donation per student from families, but they accepted anything parents were willing to give. All of the money goes directly to the PTA; there are no prizes to buy for top sellers of candy bars or percentages owed to coupon book companies. The whole community was invited to the party, no donation required.
Wilhelm suggested the idea for the Spectacular Fundraiser and Car Show when he became board treasurer three years ago.
“Every year we’ve just made it bigger and bigger,” he said. “I’ve made all these contacts. Three years into it now, I know these people. I know how to make it all happen.”
Wilhelm personally funds much of the party’s entertainment and promotion because he believes the PTA benefits his son’s school.
“I didn’t realize how much the PTA did until I got involved,” he said.
Jordan Hills’ PTA uses the money they earn from the “fun-raiser” to fund programs such as Dads and Donuts, Moms and Muffins, the birthday wagon, Ribbon Week, Field Day, Reflections, Family Week and holiday treats.
“A lot of the fun stuff that happens at the school is because of the PTA,” said PTA Secretary Kiersten Downey.
It takes a lot of volunteer hours to run the PTA programs. Despite some vacant leadership positions (the president stepped down just a week a before the event), the board finds that when they need help, there are always willing parents.
“They will come in at the eleventh hour and help us,” said Downey. “It always seems to come together.”
She said the board is grateful for any support parents are able to give, by donating money, supplies or their time.
“You hope that they feel invested in this school, and you hope that you make it worth their while when they have the time to volunteer,” said Downey.
Heather Newbold said she’s lucky to be in a position where she can help with the book fair and Field Day as well as in her child’s classroom.
“Not everybody can do it—it doesn’t mean they don’t care,” she said. “I just think that when you can, it’s good for the kids. When you’re involved with your kid’s school, I think they do better. They see that you’re there and you care, and it’s important.”
Katey White has children attending four different schools, but she values making time to volunteer.
“Being in the kids’ schools helps me understand what’s going on better,” said White. She also appreciates the opportunity to get to know and build trust in the teachers who are with her kids all day.
Melissa Reynolds, a third-grade teacher at Jordan Hills, said the PTA does a great job of supporting the teachers. It supplies gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week and meals during parent teacher conference week. The PTA budget also pays for assemblies and field trips.
This is Wilhelm’s son’s last year in elementary school. What will happen next year?
“If they ask me to be involved and help put this together again, it’s going to be hard to say no,” said Wilhelm. “I think it’s a matter of personal pride at this point. I think I want to outdo myself and make it bigger.”
For next year, he envisions more superheroes, more characters, more cars and more people in attendance. He also wants to have a bigger presence from local law enforcement and the military.
“I came this close (holding his fingers an inch away) to getting a tank,” he said. “If I start early, I think we’ll have a tank here next year—and maybe a helicopter.”