It takes a ‘community’ to raise a child; and it takes a community to support our schools. So how do we do that?
If you had asked me over 25 years ago why I was raising funds by selling cookies, chocolates and magazines, I would have simply said “my school.” It was just something we did; it was a part of our school spirit … and we got prizes for being a top fundraiser. But my experiences instilled in me a civic duty to be involved in the school community that grew beyond the walls of the school.
My son is attending a school that is not our ‘home’ school; we wanted our kids to be educated in the French immersion program and this was the school that was open to us. Truth be told, we were apprehensive about the school at first. Judging from the outside, it didn’t look very promising – it is a small school with limited playground equipment – but the principal impressed us. She has built a community inside that is full of energy and spirit. And that community spirit is needed, you see, about 65% of the children who attend this school have family incomes of less than $30,000.
You can appreciate now why our fundraising efforts are so important. The school has programs to address various needs including breakfast programs, and enriched programming like extra-curricular activities and field trips. The school receives ‘model school’ government funding and other grants to help with some of these needs. However, it is not ideal to depend on this additional funding that other schools do not receive. They want to be able to raise the funds required to reduce their dependency on the extra government funding. The school population is growing year over year (they are expecting 100 kindergarten children next year) and is expanding its catchment area with the French immersion program which will help reach this goal.
Fundraising will not only address these immediate needs but it will also teach kids to be aware of their environment and create a very important culture of community. My son loves the Fun Fair and pizza lunches among the other events made available for the kids. He even learned the first principle of fundraising – to personally support the cause first. He purchased a raffle ticket with some of his birthday money. The students also support external causes such as the Terry Fox Run, Plan Canada, and disaster relief for Nepal.
Parent volunteers get to know each other while supporting these events and let’s face it – it takes parent volunteers to organize and execute these events. For example, we approach local businesses to be sponsors, and help the school apply for grants. We do this to help enhance school programs but the real reason is very simple: we are making a difference in our community and the futures of the kids.
What speaks volumes about the community that exists in this school is that my son skips to class every day and he is becoming proficient in French. Despite funding and socio-economic challenges, it is providing excellent education in an enriched student environment.