Category Archives: PTO

PTO relies on volunteers to make the magic happen

Eighties-Dance-PTO
Eighties rockers, left to right: Kylie Lowell, Aeria Heilman, Avery DuPree, Joy Bohonowicz, Mirra Girard, and, in front, Madeline Lily. The PTO-organized dance was amazing fun for the community, and a benefit for The BSE Flow.

Kara logoWHETHER YOU’RE NEW to Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School or are an old hand, one thing you’ll notice is that the community is blessed with a wealth of talented people who make things happen. Well, we have the people. We need more of them to get involved, to help run the events everyone agrees are so much fun, and so good for the kids, and such a strong reason why many of us moved here or never wanted to leave.

That’s according to this year’s PTO president, Karen Hicks. Here is an excerpt from a conversation we had earlier this fall about the PTO and what more parents and teachers can do to strengthen this remarkable community.

LONGTIME BSE volunteer Tammy Shippee holding young Esme at the PTO’s Holiday Gift Show Nov. 15 in the school cafeteria. Crafts and gifts were made by vendors and BSE students.
LONGTIME BSE volunteer Tammy Shippee holding young Esme at the PTO’s Holiday Gift Show Nov. 15 in the school cafeteria. Crafts and gifts were made by vendors and BSE students.

KARA: How would you describe how the PTO works?

KAREN: This organization is composed of parents and teachers and staff working to support and enrich student life at BSE. Every parent, teacher, and staff member at BSE is automatically a part of the PTO.

KARA: How did you come to be president?

KAREN: I came into this position last year  when during a shifting of officer roles. I was excited to get involved with the PTO and take on the responsibility.

KARA: How are PTO members elected or how do PTO members volunteer?

KAREN: PTO members are elected yearly. We meet monthly to discuss and plan activities such as fundraisers and family activities that support and enrich the students and school community.

Anyone can help. Coming to meetings is a great way to learn about what’s being planned and how to help. The PTO welcomes everyone to participate in whatever way they can. We love having people attend meetings and share ideas but even if you can’t come to a meeting, we always appreciate help with activities such as organizing fundraisers, offering to bake for special events, helping serve MCAS breakfast in the spring, staffing dances and family events, etc. The PTO recognizes everyone is busy and we appreciate  any time and energy you can donate to help our school community.

KARA: What are your favorite past PTO events or fundraisers?

KAREN: The Original Art fundraiser is always great. The students work with Ms. Silverman, our art teacher, to create a special piece of art that will be used with this fundraiser. We’ve been doing this fundraiser for years. It’s a great way to share your child’s art with family and friends. We do this fundraiser around the holidays, and these make great gifts.

My favorite activity was the spring “Back to the 80s” dance. This was a great family activity, with kids and parents out on the dance floor.
After the success of the 80s dance, I’d love to have a 70s disco dance.

Think of the possibilities! I think families really enjoy these types of activities, where they can share in the fun with their children. It brings out the kid in all of us.

KARA: How are teachers involved?

KAREN: We are fortunate to have Principal Joanne Giguere and one or two staff members in attendance at most meetings. The PTO greatly appreciates the wonderful staff at BSE. We recognize the importance of maintaining a strong partnership between parents and staff to help best support our students.

We strive to maintain close communication with staff to support staff and students. In addition to the $150 the PTO provides for each teacher during the year for field trips and classroom supplies, the PTO is responsive to staff requests throughout the year.

KARA: What if somebody wants to volunteer but feels they don’t have enough time to do everything they want?

KAREN: We would love to see the room filled with parents and staff at all our meetings but we realize this is not feasible for everyone. There’s always a need for people to help, from baking to organizing a fundraiser.

Meetings are always posted on the PTO bulletin board at the school entrance and we send out a notice in the Thursday folder as well as on our Facebook page.

[Our thanks to Kylie Lowell, Aeria Heilman, Avery DuPree, Joy Bohonowicz, Mirra Girard, and Madeline Lily.]


Kara Bohonowicz is a BSE parent and an adviser at The BSE Flow.

Wait, We Have a School Newspaper?

FLOW STAFFERS review their story budget in the newsroom in April. Third-grader Harper Brown, center, says our ideas are “amazing,” and is eager to introduce them at his school when he hits fourth grade.
FLOW STAFFERS review their story budget in the newsroom in April. Third-grader Harper Brown, center, says our ideas are “amazing,” and is eager to introduce them at his school when he hits fourth grade.
Flow 2
TOP ROW, left to right: Joy Bohonowicz, Arwen King, Ashley Wrisley. Bottom row, left to right: Anthony Snyder and Octavia Crawford.

THIS APRIL some of the most talented kids I’ve ever met signed up to learn a little bit of what it means to work at a newspaper and have fun doing it.

As their after-school spring enrichment adviser I wanted to see how far we’d get in six hours (one hour a week for six Mondays) by interviewing each other, asking follow-up questions, and talking about how and why news is covered in our larger community.

In our art room-turned newsroom we talked about times we’d appeared in a newspaper — whether in quotes or photos — and how that felt. We interviewed friends and family, came back with copy (with direct quotes, all attributed), and had fun talking about it.
We pored over the papers serving our region, discussing the elements of story, page, and section. We noted ads and comics. We began to think of ways to serve the reader.

budget
After talking about newspapers, interviewing each other and family members, and practicing asking follow-up questions, we worked up a list of story ideas. Here we see the outline for issue No. 1 coming together, including our first big feature: a profile of Cassidy, a teacher’s dog..

Everyone showed heartening enthusiasm.

When we could grab someone out in the hallway for a photo or an interview we did that too, and came back with a great profile of a school dog, a lively Q&A with patient school staffers, and a chat with our librarian.

We voted on a name for this paper — three contenders were proposed, and “The BSE Flow” won — and I thought we’d have fun opening a Word newsletter template and typing our stories in.

The kids looked at me like I didn’t understand.

“No. We want a newspaper,” they said. They pulled a broadsheet, with all the cool stuff in it, out from the pile of papers before us. “This.”

We'd spent weeks looking at how newspapers worked. Our students weren't going to settle for a anything less.
We’d spent weeks looking at how any why these newspapers worked. Our students weren’t going to settle for anything less than a paper of their own.

“Uh… OK,” I said. “Let me see how we would print something that large. I’ll get back to you. Hold that thought.”

And I checked with the Daily Hampshire Gazette, which owns just such a press, and they promptly offered to donate 250 copies of a four-page Flow, two pages in color. And then I reported to my bosses — all in grades three, four, and six — and they got to work.

Cassidy page
From story idea to research to interview to photographs to writing to editing to layout, this piece was a huge and exciting success! And doesn’t Cassidy look sweet!

They organized a list of story ideas and decided who would work on what. They wanted to explore, for readers, what it’s like to learn here, create here, contribute here.

We interviewed and photographed and asked ourselves what we can provide our audience...
We interviewed and photographed and asked ourselves what we can provide our audience…

They took the project seriously and laughed often, which in my opinion is the perfect balance of life skills.

The kids found stories everywhere...
The kids found stories everywhere…

We had planned to cover everything — all the other enrichment programs, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the eclipse, news from every class, and big events scheduled for May and June.

We worked on stories together; they voted on photos to use out of a dozen or so per subject we’d met.

I roamed the halls on their behalf, taking pictures, interviewing teachers, and … that was a problem. We’d run out of time. I wanted this to be their paper, not mine, so to finish now, without them, to get photos they wouldn’t get to see or vote on, to get quotes they wouldn’t get to consider for follow-up, would defeat the purpose.

I wanted them to lay the thing out, write headlines and captions, and proof pages. I’d help, of course.

Our first issue, with breaking news!
Our first issue, four pages, with breaking news! We printed 250 copies and gave them out in school. Families, teachers, and students said they wanted to see the project continue…

Then I learned Jacqui Goodman’s class won that prestigious award, our new lead story. Thrilling for them and for the whole school. This was news! A BSE Flow exclusive! We have such potential. (This also “bumped” other material we had planned for you. It happens.)

So the project ended, and work remains, and we can certainly do this again and build on our experience and add staff, as the kids asked me whether we might, way back on Day One.

I hope you enjoy reading this newspaper with your family. The one at home and the one we share as BSE.

Here’s to the conversation.

ELLEN ELLER of Sawyer News says folks love getting the Flow. Our distribution manager, Brooke, grade 5, gets our papers to their proper destination, and the students see how their work gets from the story pitch to readers' hands.
ELLEN ELLER of Sawyer News says folks love getting the Flow. Our distribution manager, Brooke, grade 5, gets our papers to their proper destination, and the students see how their work gets from the story pitch to readers’ hands.

— Words and pictures by John Snyder, publisher and adviser