PTO Minutes 2016-02-22

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Highland PTO Meeting Minutes

February 22, 2016

President’s remarks – Google expedition program at school on 2/22, for grades 2-6. Google is currently taking this program to schools for free, but will soon start charging. Mr. Przasnyski started researching the program in the fall. After a lot of work getting the visit approved through Central Administration, the students had a wonderful time. They were each given a cardboard box, with an iphone attached and were able to see a 3d view of places all over the world, much like the viewmasters of old. Among some of the places: sphynx, underwater, space, the Mayan ruins in Mexico, Statue of Liberty. Sixth grade students got to visit the Hiroshima memorial, which tied in with current lessons. When the students turned around, or looked down or up, they got a 360 view of that place. The kids had a ball. When teachers read a story, students are able to look at pictures, but this was like going on a virtual field trip. Considering asking people to donate old phones so that the school could do this on its own. 

The student flower show was featured on the news; including the amazing totem pole from Mrs. Kelley’s class. A huge thank you to Ms. Lee-Kim and Ms. Forrest for the huge enrichment opportunity for the students.

Science Fair was also on the news. Need to think about how to promote more next year to increase participation. Maybe more robocall, skyward messages, possibly a reminder before winter break to make sure students have time over break to complete projects. We will need someone to take over from Melanie Wills as next year is her last at Highland. Would be great to have someone shadow at next year’s event so they can learn how it is run.

MLK day of service also featured on the news. A big thank you to Ms. Daniels and Ms. Park for the hard work that made that event possible.

(Thank you to Ms. Lee-Kim, Ms. Park, Ms. Daniels, Ms. Forrest and Ms. Arnold for all of the positive media attention and news coverage of Highland events!)

PSSA 2015 results overview – This was the first year with the new format, which is fully aligned with PA core standards. Don’t compare results from this year to previous years. As these results are used to determine placement for junior high, and they might not be as positive as prior years, teachers will use curriculum-based assessments and report cards, along with the 2015 results. Make sure to talk to teachers at March conferences if this is a concern. PSSAs measure growth in a given year, Highland exceeded growth. Please use this link to view the presentation that goes into great depth about the district wide results:$file/Board%20PSSA-Keystones%20-%20Grad%20Requirements%2011-10-15.pdf.

One important takeaway from the presentation was the fact that children should be encouraged to ask questions in class. This allows teachers to know who needs additional help and allows children to self advocate. It also helps to expand their thinking. This year PSSA testing begins week of April 11th for language arts, week of April 18th for math and week of 25th for science (4th grade only). Students should not get stressed or anxious about the test.

Review of Recent Events

Special person’s dance – have only heard great feedback; had expected 100-150 people, had 308 people come in the door, hoping for even more next year. Thinking of a gift for students next year, maybe a picture frame. Mr. Etlen commented that he loved the inclusiveness of the event, any special person was welcome. With tickets/flowers/pictures, the dance brought in $1,921 and expenses were $713. It was a great team effort by the whole committee.

Book Fair – made about $400 less than last year, total of $5291 was sold, we get 55% back in scholastic dollars, which is distributed to teachers for classroom items. It was a great event.

Box tops – $580 worth of box tops waiting to be sent, already made $1000 in December, had only expected to make $500 for the year.

Upcoming Events/Other Business

Multicultural event – Thurs 5/12, has been teacher run in the past, but they asked for PTO help. Has been different over the years, once used a passport to go around to different tables representing various countries, have also had a potluck food-centric event. Would like to combine the two this year. Have tables in the gym for the passport portion (4:30-5:30), then have potluck in the gym (5:30-6:30). We have a $600 budget for the event, and the permit has already been submitted as a school event with PTO help. Flyer will go out, with an opportunity to sign up for a country. Email Erica at if you already know you want to participate. Options for things to have at a table: books, music, pictures, small bites of food. Food event last year was well attended, but was a struggle to get a lot of countries represented. There are no limitations, you do not have to be from the country, would be a great research project for kids. Possibly do a drawing for all participants to encourage attendance. This is a great event that welcomes all families at Highland, and highlights every culture. You don’t have to host a table to attend, but should bring a dish to share if you want to do the potluck. (or there is the option to make a donation instead)

Science Day – March 9th, we still need parent volunteers. We are short 1 volunteer for grades K, 3rd, 5th, 6th and need 2 volunteers fro 2nd and 4th. Please contact Van Hellerslia if you can help:

March Assembly – on 3/8 the Franklin Institute will bring an assembly for all students about Life in Space. Thank you Taryn Kindred. This assembly is paid for and coordinated by the PTO.

Parent Council April meeting – 4/6 7:00pm at Senior High, will cover summer camps and activities, will possibly also have volunteer opportunities for junior/senior high students.

Hershey Park tickets – look in the March Husky Happenings for more info about the PTO sale of Hershey Park tickets. These will be at a discounted price, and the PTO will make a small amount ($5-6) per ticket. Regular price tickets are $63.80 adults/$40.80 kids and PTO tickets will be $40 adults/$32 kids. Tickets will be delivered to students in April and are good through July. Will ask next year about discounted/free parking tickets also.

YoFresh fundraiser – 3/8 5:00-8:00

Spring Fling – 4/30, flyers will go out in April, will set up in front of school again; will probably do wristbands; will use signup genius for volunteers; older kids can volunteer and get service hours, must sign up at junior/senior high; maybe use a class incentive to get parents from each class to volunteer time. We need parents/guardians to give just an hour of their time that day.

Open positions – Family fun night chairs – 2 evening events per school year, would be great for a working parent to consider; Treasurer – Vicki Turner has done an amazing job for 5 years!! This is a 2 year position; Elsa Solis volunteered; Co-president – 2 year position, would get the chance to share the position with Georelle Farward (who is awesome to work with), would get to hang out with Mr. Etlen and get more involved in the school.

Packets  – need help putting them together this Thursday 2/25 at 9:00am in the PTO room

5th & 6th Grade social – Friday, May, 6th from 6:30-8:30.  The theme is a Luau. There will be a DJ, Photo Booth and snacks to purchase.

6th grade gift – budget is $500 for a gift to the school; have a quote for an “etching” on the front windows, but it’s way about that budget; there’s $1800 in restricted funds left from last year’s 6th grade class, who have already given the school the sign out front, still need a cover for it, but that won’t use the whole balance; shouldn’t have to chase down parents from the committee from last year, especially given that they no longer have students at Highland. The debate is whether that money gets passed on to current 6th grade, held as restricted funds, folded into PTO budget. It all falls under the PTO umbrella, even though the 6th grade committee runs independently; one argument is that leftover money should be spoken for by end of school year/fiscal year, or it gets turned over to the next year; Mr. Tony desperately needs new tables; consider adding a clause to the by-laws that covers what to do with these restricted funds