Friday, November 4, 2016

Despite rain, WPS's firstfa ll Festival a huge success - By Stephen Signor

Rain did not keep Halloween fanatics from showing up at 404 Gray Road last Saturday for Windham Primary School’s first ever Fall Festival. 

“In June we started thinking about ideas about an event and landed on the Fall Festival, something for all ages with a theme,” shared principal Dr. Kyle Rhoads. 

Although the weather forced most of the events to be moved inside no one seemed to care. Several classrooms were the showcase for such events like a ring toss over pumpkins, face painting and a treasure hunt where two kiddy pools were filled with leaves that hid prizes for the taking. The main hallway was abuzz with children engaging in games like the apple toss and having their picture taken while placing their smiling faces into corn stalks and other seasonal selfie booths.

Meanwhile the cafeteria was the scene of pumpkin decorating. Two young for using carving tools, the children decorated donated pumpkins with stickers to take home. The library was the scene of a scavenger hunt. There were hidden objects in plain sight to be found by seekers and treats to be rewarded.

Outside a dunk tank was set up that proved to be very popular. Despite the rain, children lined up to take a shot at four brave souls who volunteered to get wet. For $1, those aspiring to hit their target were given three bean bags. Staff members secretary Corey McAllister, social worker John Reidy, noon monitor Jason Farley and last but certainly not least principal Rhoads endured the rain and accurate arms of paying customers. 

The staff’s popularity was obvious even before the day of the festival. “Well, we made announcements over the intercom on Thursday listing the activities that would be available. The dunk tank was most by far what the kids were talking about,” said Rhoads. The notion of this activity came naturally. “The dunk tank was my idea. Thankfully it was purchased by the PTA and eventually paid for by contributions,” continued Rhoads. 

In response to the weather, Rhoads said “Even though it was rainy outside, it was sunny inside for sure. The kids are having a blast and that’s all we wanted to do.” 

There was no letting up in the attendance the entire four hours. “I’m impressed with how it has gone today. At one point we had the hallway pretty packed with families. The PTA has been a great help along with staff and family volunteers. Volunteer coordinator Michelle Jordan was instrumental in getting volunteers and organizing the event. It’s a team effort. It shows community support also,” said Rhoads. 
Parent advisory group at the primary school, the PTA and staff all worked together to coordinate the event. Kudos also goes to Melissa Oldakowski from Coldwell Banker Team Real Estate who recruited donations from area businesses and people. 

“Local business owners should feel proud that they make consistent efforts to help their community. I think it comes back two-fold when you give,” said Oldakowski. As for the event itself, she acknowledged, “Super thankful to all the teachers. I am really excited to see where this community is heading,” she continued.

Success isn’t always easy to measure. But to summarize, Jordan attempted by saying “We had 350 pumpkins and they were all gone. If you take, say 400 kids each with two adults, I think we probably had 800 or 900 walk through today.” As a free event the only thing donation-based was the bake sale table and the dunk tank. 

“That money will off-set any cost that we had for the event. I expect that we will make some extra money so we will decide later where we will put that to work; probably something for the students through the school,” concluded Jordan.

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