By Cari Slater
Special to the Alpine Mountaineer
Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023 was no ordinary day at Lake Arrowhead Elementary School (LAE). Children ran to and from bouncy houses to game stations and a DJ booth wearing socks on their feet and celebrating their Day of Awesomeness, the concluding experience of the PTA-run Step It Up fundraiser.
“The Day of Awesomeness is the culmination of the fundraiser, as appreciation for money raised,” said Tracy Gauci, LAE’s PTA president.
Students were gleeful as they came in waves by grade all school day long.
“The day of awesomeness was super awesome!” said second-grade student Zoe Riley.
Activity stations at the Day of Awesomeness included giant bouncy houses, a DJ booth where kids could dance or hula hoop to lively music or participate in conga lines that traveled under a limbo pole, a maze, dodgeball, basketball, a foozeball-esque bouncy house where children got into position holding onto suspended ropes and kicking a soccer ball, and much more.
“There was a guy handing out candy to kids who danced. So, me and my friends danced and danced and danced and danced,” said transitional-kindergarten student Adler Snell.
Teachers and adult volunteers ensured that the children stayed hydrated and that all participants were safe and having fun.
The company that LAE PTA partners with for the fundraiser is called Step It Up. According to their website, the company is “revolutionizing school fundraising by spreading high fives and positive vibes like confetti!” They help raise funds for schools in a way that excites students and includes everyone. Students reap rewards of the fundraiser regardless of how much money the individual raises. The fundraiser is full of incentives that all students receive and participate in even if they do not raise any money on an individual level.
“I like that everyone gets to participate in the fundraiser and the Day of Awesomeness. It is inclusive,” said LAE Principal Jaclyn Loncteaux.
Traditional school fundraisers involve children selling items like nuts, candy and Christmas gift wrap, with prizes doled out to those students with top sales. The Step It Up fundraiser model feels less cumbersome for families and rewards all students, explains Loncteaux.
The fundraiser begins with an awareness campaign where each student’s family is tasked with sending out 10 fundraising emails to their close contacts. As long as parents confirm that the emails were sent, those students receive prizes within the first week of the fundraiser. The day that prizes were handed out at LAE, a sea of green alien hats emerged from the gates and front doors of the school as parents and busses came in to pick up students.
The Day of Awesomeness was another incentive that all students got to enjoy. This incentive was school-wide and had no requirements associated with it.
In addition to school-wide incentives, there are prizes associated with fundraising goal levels. Children who were able to acquire donations for the school could win a number of individual kid-centric prizes such as slushy cups, a neck pillow, a glowing inflatable chair, a slushy machine, and there was a raffle for big ticket items like a tablet.
The Step It Up fundraiser resulted in $17,612.00 allocated to PTA funds, said Gauci. She explained that PTA funds are used for enrichment, school improvements and fun events for students and their families that build a sense of community and support at the school.
“We are saving for another large sunshade for our playground that can cover all students. We also renewed our Mystery Science program with PTA funds and we have assemblies for the kids, like the BMX bike assembly, and some others we have planned for Spring 2024. Funds also go toward our Meet the Masters art program, where students learn about famous artists and take a hand in creating their own masterpieces in the styles of featured artists,” said Gauci.
Multiple LAE staff and administrators have explained that, due to the defunding of art programs in schools, administration and PTA work hard to create extracurricular programs to enhance student learning in the arts and other areas.
PTA funds also support LAE’s learning gardens, field trips, Pastries with Parents and the fifth-grade carnival.
“Led by the PTA, the school has done many fundraisers and events like book fairs, Trunk-or-Treat, movie night and Original Works, which is an artwork fundraiser where parents can order mugs, towels, etc. with their child’s artwork on it,” said Gauci.