On Saturday nights, the public school gym comes alive with disco lights and the sound of dance music and laughter as rollerskaters of all ages take to the floor.
Thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers who have revitalized the Orcas PTSA, rollerskating nights are now a regular activity in the old gym, which was renovated this past year. Teen events, movie nights and adult skate evenings are also in the works.
“I’m seeing the really deep value of community, and the space it creates for young community members – especially teens,” said PTSA President Michele Rodriguez.
The entire community — not just kids and parents — is invited to glide around the gym from 4-7 p.m. each Saturday (with a few exceptions) through the end of the school year. Parents and friends often sit in the bleachers to cheer the skaters on, particularly during the lighthearted “racing” portion of the evening. Music has been supplied by guest DJs Sommer and Hazel McKenzie and Charlie Eon.
The cost is $5 for individuals and $15 for a family. It’s $10 to become a member of the PTSA, which includes a one-time free family pass. Rodriguez says buying a skate pass is a great stocking stuffer.
PTSA’s mission is to be “a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and our school, and a strong advocate for the education and wellbeing of every child.” Its focus for the 2019-20 school year is to foster the social and emotional health of the district’s students. While there are currently 20 paid members, around 50 parents attend meetings.
“It is so exciting to see that there is a real surge of parental involvement in the PTSA,” Rodriguez said.
Additional board members are vice president Trillium Swanson, secretary Taryn Ockerman and treasurer Robert Austin. PTSA emphasizes equal voice for parents, teachers and students.
The group launched a new website, https://www.orcasptsa.org, designed by Ayn Gailey of the Orcas Parent, Administration and Community Taskforce, or OrcasPACT. There is a calendar of events, information about donating and more. The PTSA Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/orcasptsa/, also provides up-to-date news about the school district.
Every dime that PTSA raises is funneled back into the school. This year, it’s slated to bring in $10,000. Other projects include a college and trade school flag fundraiser.
According to Orcas PTSA, “We want our Orcas Island kids to know about and be proud of where you went to college or trade school or how you found happiness through trade schools, farming, art school or an entrepreneurial path. We are asking the community to make a donation to this project so that we can purchase the college or college-alternative flag of your choice. The flags will be hung in school so that kids can be inspired and motivated for years to come. In addition to being able to obtain traditional college flags and pennants, Orcas Island public school students Birdie Greening, Gray Gailey and Isabella Evans have created original flags to represent farmers, art school and entrepreneurship.”
PTSA is also coordinating a room parent communication system. Based on successful programs at other schools, each classroom will have a room parent whose job it is to help teachers and administrators communicate with parents on such topics as potlucks, room supplies and end of year activities.
“Essentially, the plan is to create more effective communications and relieve your teacher of this job so that they can focus more on teaching,” according to PTSA. “The school district has sent out an “opt out” for parents who do not want to share there contact information. Going forward, the PTSA, parents and other groups can look each other up and connect.”
PTSA is an all-volunteer organization. Email email@example.com if you’d like to help.
“We are seeing such amazing results of the work each of us does in our school,” Rodriguez said. “I am so grateful to everyone who makes this community a great place to live.”