By Starrla Cray
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN When parents in Lester Prairie get together, good things happen.
“Our major project over the last two years has been the school library,” said Darlene Schmidt, chair of Lester Prairie Parents for Education.
An upcoming fundraiser is the spring carnival, which will take place Wednesday, March 27 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the school gym. Game tickets are four for $1, and can be purchased at the door.
“Everyone is welcome,” Schmidt said. “One of the great things about this event is that it is really a group/community effort. It’s fun to see teachers, parents, and high school students all volunteering to provide fun for the kids, while raising money for a worthy cause.”
Volunteers are still needed, and the group is also looking for prize donations (which can be dropped off at the school office). To learn more, contact Cheryl Bayerl at (320) 395-2966 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love for the library
Proceeds from the carnival are donated back to the school for a variety of needs.
“The library is a really good example of what parent volunteers can do,” Schmidt said, explaining that the library was understaffed and in need of attention.
Through the efforts of LP Parents for Education, books have been cleaned and re-organized, and transported while the library was being remodeled last summer.
“We noticed an urgent need for better containment of lower elementary books, so we worked with Joe Scoblic in the tech ed department to get some new shelves built,” Schmidt added, noting that the old shelving was damaging the books.
The group researched what other libraries were using to display similar books, and gave Scoblic dimensions of what was needed. Scoblic then donated material left from other projects, and high school senior Adam Feltmann constructed the shelves.
“The school has also dedicated some more staffing resources to the library, which is really helping the backlog and day-to-day tasks get done, as well as being able to plan more improvements to the library,” Schmidt noted.
A k-12 connection
LP Parents for Education’s main focus has been the elementary school, but some of the activities, such as the “giving tree,” benefit high school students, as well.
Each December, for example, the “giving tree” lets teachers create a classroom wish list, which is hung on a tree in the school lobby. Parents are then welcome to choose items to purchase and give to the teacher.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on this activity from teachers and parents alike,” Schmidt said.
LP Parents for Education strives to support school staff, students’ education, and Lester Prairie School as a whole and so far, it’s been accomplishing its goal nicely.
“Something really valuable about Lester Prairie is that we have k-12 in one building,” Schmidt said. “One of the unique benefits of having your kids in a small school like this is that you really get to know the teachers and staff, and are able to interact and build more of a relationship with the people who are such critical players in your child’s education.”
At the end of each school year, the group hosts a teacher/staff appreciation breakfast, and during parent/teacher conferences, they serve teachers a special meal.
“It’s important for teachers to feel like their efforts are appreciated, and to know that parents care,” Schmidt said. “Anyone who has spent time at the school knows that our teachers go above and beyond, and sometimes we take that for granted.”
LP Parents for Education meets monthly during the school year, and new members are always welcome. According to Schmidt, volunteering with this group is a great way to gain a better understanding of the inner workings of the school, and is also a fun networking opportunity for parents.
The next meeting is Wednesday, April 3 at 7 p.m. at Lester Prairie School. To learn more, contact Schmidt at (320) 583-3022 or email@example.com.