Ok, I love arts and culture, but sometimes I am slow to come to an appreciation of other events. Case in point — I hated the Apex Fun Run when Beatrix's school started doing it. I didn't see the point, I didn't like the kids getting all worked up to get prizes, I worry about high overhead for fundraising activities, I was not crazy about school fundraisers in general — I only saw the "run," and not the fun.
I was categorically wrong.
Over the past 3 years, I have really come to see the value and come to appreciate Apex as an organization. Each year, they provide a leadership curriculum where they spend just a few minutes in the classroom each day with the leadership goals. They kids love it and respond to "Jazzy Jeff" and the other staff that come to their classrooms. The organization puts all this together with minimal parent involvement (well, except in the case of my awesome friend Peg who has been chairing the event and really knocking herself out on it) and a focus on the kids getting the most possible from the event. Yes, we could do something with lower overhead, but it would take a LOT more volunteer commitment, and I am not convinced we have the capacity. In our case, Beatrix likes asking for pledges but does not get too obsessed about the big prizes. There is a lot of community built.
And to be quite blunt about finances, Randolph Heights had over $100,000 cut from it's budget this year. The PTA budget is about $80,000 this year, allowing for small classroom grants to teachers, health and safety supplies, field trips for all grades, new books for the library and classroom materials, and to make up for the music programming that was cut. We need events like the Fun Run, much as I might wish we did not.
Today was the run itself, and it was a blast. The weather was beautiful, and there were two courses (one for each grade) set up at nearby Edgcumbe Rec, where the kids ran 36+ laps for about half an hour. It was great physical exercise, it was community building, it was a source of pride, and it was really fun for each kid. I saw kids trip and have their friends help each other up. I saw girls run holding hands. I saw my friend's son, new to the school, super-excited because he had raised enough pledges to put a pie in the face of "Jazzy Jeff." I saw one boy who ran 74 laps — double the 36 they were shooting for. I saw excitement and joy and fun.
So yes, I may have started off cynically. But now I can't support this enough. So I guess I have gained some leadership skills too.