Welcome to the ‘Festival of Unity’

October 2, 2008

By Christopher Huber

Tailgate party unites Beaver Lake Middle School community

Eighth-grader Devon Davenport buys a Skyline shirt at the booster club booth. Photo by Christopher Huber

Eighth-grader Devon Davenport buys a Skyline shirt at the booster club booth. Photo by Christopher Huber

For two hours, PTA volunteers turned Beaver Lake Middle School into a green-and-white funhouse Sept. 19. As parents mingled, eager to meet their children’s teachers, students flocked with their friends to the disco tent and danced near the blaring speakers.Some played football in the field, while some ate burgers or hotdogs fresh off the grill. Others jumped with the mob when “YMCA” came on.

Small groups of mostly sixth- and seventh-graders meandered around the grounds with green-and-silver beads draped around their necks and their “Spartan Power” T-shirts.

Last year, organizers sold about 350 tickets, according to parent organizer Amy Huish. This year was different.  

Approximately 700 people congregated at the school to eat, dance and pep themselves up at the second annual tailgate party. 

The goal was not necessarily just to pump everyone up for a football game, but also to unite the Beaver Lake community, according to PTA co-president Caroline Brown.

The “festival of loveliness,” Brown said, was meant to bring parents, teachers and their students together in a nonacademic setting to create a strong sense of community and start the school year off on a positive note.

“Principal Josh Almy wanted the event to bring the whole Beaver Lake community together and to get everyone excited about the school year,” Huish said. 

The Skyline High School booster club greeted partygoers under an arch of balloons, selling Skyline pom-poms, shirts and hats. 

A few students said it was weird to see their teachers outside of school, but also kind of cool. 

“It’s always interesting to see how the kids view the staff outside of school,” Almy said. “I think for the kids, it wasn’t as big a deal. We want to continually show that staff are not only teachers and principals, but we’re parents and community members, too. It builds a little bit of a bond as well.”

The tailgate party is one of two annual events the PTA sponsors to try and achieve one of the school’s three main goals: build a sense of community. The others are learning and accountability, Almy said.

As families fled the school parking lot for the Skyline game, sixth-grader Amanda Shaw lingered with a few friends.

“It was really fun and I really enjoyed it,” she said. “The DJ guy was cool, and the whole idea of having the blow-up things and the Skyline colors.”

She saw some of her teachers, too.

“It wasn’t really freaky or anything,” she said. “I saw some really fun people here.”

Although attendees purchased tickets for the event, it was only to cover the cost of food, Huish said. It was not a fundraiser, but Brown and Huish acknowledged there might be some money left from the $5 tickets, which will benefit the PTA. 

For next year, they’ll hope the rain holds out again, Almy said, and they’ll work to get more eighth-graders to attend.

“It’s something that’s going to continue for a long time,” Huish said.

Reach Reporter Christopher Huber at 392-6434, ext. 242, or at chuber@isspress.com.

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