VIPs visit Russellville schools

Rylee Rakestraw made an animated leprechaun with the help of her grandmother Kathy Shepherd as part of VIP Day in Tracey Bieri’s second grade classroom at Cole County R-I Schools.

Rylee Rakestraw made an animated leprechaun with the help of her grandmother Kathy Shepherd as part of VIP Day in Tracey Bieri’s second grade classroom at Cole County R-I Schools. Photo by Michelle Brooks.

RUSSELLVILLE, Mo. — Providing student incentives, supporting school security improvements, and hosting events and assemblies, the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) at Cole County R-I Schools is integral to the success for students.

On Friday, the Russellville PTO hosted VIP (Very Important Person) Day, allowing students in kindergarten through fifth grade to invite an adult visitor to their classrooms and a musical assembly in the gymnasium.

Students enjoyed making spring flowers and playing games with their VIPs in Lauren Novak’s kindergarten class. In other classes, the pairs cut and colored leprechauns, listened to student habitat presentations, participated in classmate bingo and demonstrated classroom technology.

VIP Day is a fun time to bring the community into the school. But much of what the PTO organizes are fundraisers to provide the school with extras and sometimes necessities beyond what the school budget might provide.

“While the main point is to raise money for our general funds, it is also important to the PTO to keep the prices reasonable so more people can come and have fun,” said member Lori Schulte.

The PTO has added fun awards to the annual event, including Most Creative Team Uniforms, Best Team Name, Best Underdog Team, Best Catch and Worst Catch.

A concession stand will include chili, hot dogs, nachos, candy and drinks.

Where the tournament will support the general funds, the Third Annual Pancake Breakfast and Silent Auction from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. April 28 has been dedicated to funding additional security for the elementary/middle school building.

Following the December shootings at a Connecticut school, the local district took a closer look at building security and then requested financial help from the PTO for improvements, Schulte said.

More than 300 attended the 2012 breakfast.

“Because of the importance of this year’s cause, we have our sights set higher,” Schulte said.

The PTO hopes to raise $4,000 from the event.

Currently, they are looking for donations to offset costs, such as food and paper products, for the silent auction.

Earlier in the year, the PTO also held product sales and offered Russellville merchandise, commercial product rewards collections and a carnival booth. They also will provide concessions at track meets.

These fundraising activities support students through the School Store Incentive program, school assemblies, student Christmas gifts, VIP day, playground improvements, track meet medals, and requests from organizations like band and Beta Club, reported Jana Thompson, curriculum coordinator, at the January board of education meeting.

This school year, the PTO also has purchased books and an iPad for the library, Mimio equipment for classrooms, MAP testing incentives, COPE program fees for seventh-graders, gifts for staff at the beginning of the year and Christmas, teacher/staff appreciation week, supplies for the supply closet, and fulfilling miscellaneous staff requests.

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