W-M PTO spring fundraiser undergoes format change

The Watertown-Mayer Parent Teacher Organization’s annual spring event fundraiser is set for next Friday, April 19, and for what is believed to be the first time in 28 years, the event will feature a new format this year.

Instead of the spring carnival format that has been featured in past years, the PTO will be hosting a spring fundraiser called Light Up The Night, a reference to a teacher recognition ceremony that will be held at the very beginning of the event. The evening will also feature a Taste of Watertown that is expected to include food from nine Watertown restaurants, a silent auction, bingo with prizes, and a Deal or No Deal game show. The event runs from 5-7:30 p.m.

“After 28 years, we just decided the event needed a little update, so we reformatted it,” PTO spring event coordinator Bonita Heilman said. “We still wanted to keep it a family event, but we wanted to make it less volunteer dependent. The carnival required 125 volunteers.”

Besides the practicality of the new format from a volunteer standpoint, Heilman said she also believes the event will be equally entertaining, and that many parents started to feel it was time for a change in the event anyway. Heilman said she hopes the Taste of Watertown part will be a big hit, and added that the new format is still a family-friendly community event, which is the main goal of the PTO’s fundraiser.

“We like fundraisers that give back to the community,” Heilman said. “You can take your whole family up there and be entertained for the evening, and it’s for a good cause. It’s a community service as well as a fundraiser.”

This year, the kindergarten through fifth  grade students were involved in the preparation process for the festival, as each K-5 class created a themed basket to be included in the silent auction, with all the items donated by students and their families. Examples of the baskets include a dog theme, cat theme, movie night, and a weekend getaway.

“That part has worked fabulously,” Heilman said.

Another new aspect of the event will be the Deal or New Deal game taking place in the Performing Arts Center. Students will have the chance to answer an age-appropriate trivia question to win a prize, and if they answer correctly, they get to choose a wrapped gift. Then, they can make a decision if they want to trade that gift for what is under Box 1, 2 or 3, or keep the original gift.

In addition to that game, Bingo will also be played for prizes in the auxiliary gym. And, in another new event, basketball games pitting students against teachers and parents will be played in the gym. There will be six teams playing in three separate games.

The Taste of Watertown will be featured in the school cafeteria, and that food is included in the admission price, which is $6 for kindergarten through fifth grade, and $8 for sixth grade and up.  There will also be concessions available for an additional cost.

The admission price of the event goes to support the PTO, which provides $22,000 in funding annually to the primary, elementary and middle schools to offset student activity fees and provide money for class trips. When there is extra money, the PTO provides additional funding on a grant basis to support various needs. In recent years, the PTO, which has generated $177,500 since 2007, has bought SMART Boards for the elementary school and primary school, purchased a rock climbing wall at the elementary school, and bought new furniture for the primary school media center.

Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]