Connecting Our Schools

School fund-raisers create community while raising awareness

Delmarie Kelley, Andrea Turner, & Alexis Whitfield at Peabody Elementary’s chili contest.

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It’s accepted that schools with extensive parental involvement nurture successful students. But aside from ensuring that homework gets done, we serve our children best when we enlist the larger community to show up. In these four Memphis-area schools, parents and administrators put on fund-raisers that raise money, awareness, and community spirit.


Maria Montessori School Regatta • April 20

Introducing new families to a special school was also the impetus 10 years ago, when a teacher and a parent at Maria Montessori School in Harbor Town approached the faculty with an idea. Says Fletcher Golden, director of outdoor education, “I’d been out kayaking on the Wolf River Lagoon, and I saw the amphitheater and the gardens and thought, people need to know about this school’s amazing setting, and the best way to see it is from the river.”

The purpose was to connect the Harbor Town and Downtown communities with their greatest asset, the Mississippi River, and introduce new families to the school’s inclusive spirit.
There’s no better example of this spirit than the Wacky Boat Race, in which contestants use huge sheets of cardboard and rolls of duct tape to construct watercraft that race on the school’s duck pond. Later, a flotilla of rubber duckies drift across the water, in a wet and squeaky raffle.

This year’s Regatta will be held on April 20th; parent-child pairs or experienced kids 12+ are welcome to race, and a limited supply of canoes and kayaks is available for rent. Fees for races, games, make-and-take art, and food sales also help raise scholarship money. All of these events are staffed by parents, teachers, and students, who collapse with their guests to enjoy live music in the amphitheater, overlooking the lagoon that inspired it all.


Snowden School CommUnity Festival • April 27

“If you’ve never set foot in your neighborhood school, you can’t make an informed decision,” said School Board member Chris Caldwell. That notion gave rise to CommUnity, a festival at Snowden School that entices families with games, a bouncy house, and a climbing wall, then serves up a dose of justified self-promotion.

The festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 27th, features performances by the marching band, dance team, and taekwondo club. The principal braves a dunk tank, and the chess club takes on all comers. Food runs from burgers to a PTA-sponsored healthy-eating zone with vegetarian chili.

Neighborhood associations partner with churches and businesses to sponsor the event. With a budget of several thousand dollars, the PTA is able to fund a day of fun, while providing a crucial “first look at Snowden” for many who might not otherwise be aware of this gem in their midst.


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