BY Lindsay Owens
---- — Lena Dunn Elementary parents and PTO members Denise Parsons and Diana Sipes had a dream: to provide the children, parents and teachers at the school a sense of community and pride and so the Lena Dunn Fall Fiesta was born.
"We spoke with Mrs. Brenda Butcher, our principal, and a few of the teachers and they were all for the idea last year," said Sipes. "We were going to try to make it happen then but due to the lack of time, we just didn't have the chance to get everything put together."
Sipes said this year the PTO, Butcher, and the teachers all met and decided to move forward with their plans for the Fall Fiesta. "It's definitely been a learning experience for all of us," said Sipes. "But after all, life is about always learning."
Those involved in the planning of the projects said they hope with each year, the event will continue to grow and will become something that people look forward to attending annually. Butcher said in the future the school hopes the PTO will be able to continue the fiesta as well.
"The entire school staff really came together for this," said Butcher. Teachers and staff members in addition to the PTO worked countless hours preparing and coming up with activities for the two-hour long event. "Our maintenance department and cafeteria staff have donated their time as well," Butcher added. "Everyone has been very supportive of this for our students."
The event, held Saturday on the school grounds, featured various carnival games, a dunk tank featuring some of the teachers, a hay ride around the track, and a coney supper among other things. Some of the more festive games included pumpkin ring toss and sack races. Students and their families could purchase a bracelet for $5 to play all the games.
"We tried to offer some things that were free like the hayride and the face painting," said Butcher. "We wanted to have a good mix of things. In addition to the $3 hot dog and coney supper which also included chips, cookie and a drink, we also had snow cones and cotton candy available for purchase," said Butcher.
"Our PTO at Lena Dunn, led by Diane Sipes and Denise Parsons, worked countless hours to put this event together. They are so amazing and work very hard for the students and teachers at Lena Dunn," said Gretchen Miles, who teaches fourth grade at the school.
At nearly any given time during the course of the fiesta, at least 100 people could be found on the school grounds and well over 100 meal tickets had been sold for the event as of the first Friday of the month. Additional tickets were also sold at the door.
"This was a great evening to build relationships with both our parents and our community," said Miles. "The staff at Lena Dunn is exceptional. We all work together for the common goal and that is 'Doing what's best for our kids.' I believe we accomplished that goal completely," said Miles.
Butcher said that special events at the school, located in the west end of the city, always draw a big crowd. "We always have a nice turnout when we have events here," said Butcher. "People always seem to really come out and support the kids and what they do."
Washington Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Roach echoed both Miles and Butcher's sentiments about the number of people in attendance. "The event was well attended by students and their families. Our PTO and staff members did an outstanding job of organizing an opportunity for the school community to come together in an informal setting to celebrate the positive environment at Lena Dunn," said Roach.