BY CURTIS CARDEN, Elizabethton Star
An annual tradition has turned into a key part of improvements at a city elementary school.
Organizers with the West Side Elementary PTO are in the process of organizing the annual fall carnival/festival on Sunday, Sept. 30, from 2 to 6 p.m. on the school’s premises.
Even though the carnival is held for individuals of all ages, the event has been used to help make improvements at the school.
The biggest addition to the school was the creation of an all abilities playground. Since 2015, the PTO organized several fundraisers, like the carnival, to raise funds for the project. After two years of work, the school system was able to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony last year to celebrate the completion of the project — which totaled around $85,000. Several families, businesses and other private donors assisted with the playground.
With the support, the playground was able to include handicap-accessible swings and a wheelchair-friendly ramp that leads to a play area full of boards to be used for visual activities.
This year’s event is hoping to continue the momentum of giving back to the children, according to PTO President Alainya Hare.
“We are raising money to add new playground equipment to our kindergarten, first and second grade playground,” Hare said. “We also hope to purchase books for our classroom libraries and school-wide technology. We welcome everyone in the community to spend the day with us with their friends and families.”
Due the role it played last year, Hare said this year’s festival will have a variety of activities available.
Children are encouraged to play on the new playground while parents participate in a silent auction. Items that are to be featured in the auction include Dollywood tickets, Tweetsie Railroad tickets, World of Coke tickets, Tennessee Smokies baseball tickets, Masterpiece Mixers party, a Blowtique gift bag, ETSU gift card, various restaurant and retail gift cards. Hare added that parents have made different specialty baskets for the event: a fall decor basket, Cyclones basket, spa/beauty basket, gardening basketball, Taste of Carter County basket, school supply basket, baking basket and gameday basket.
During the event, youngsters will be able to play and utilize the activities available, including inflatables, game booths, a DJ, Wallabies gaming truck and face painting. Concessions will also be available during the event.
Volunteers with the PTO often hold various fundraisers throughout the year to assist the school with projects. To learn more, check out the West Side Elementary School PTO Facebook page.