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Family-friendly event scheduled to help local athletes
With changes in the Pickerington school district including an increase in pay-to-participate fees, the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce is leading the charge in an effort to assist those in need.
The Leadership, Education and Development Seminar class (LEADS) of the chamber of commerce has organized a day of family fun in the first ever “Play A Palooza.” The event, which will be held rain or shine, will take place from noon to 5 p.m. May 22 at Pickerington High School North, with proceeds going toward students in the pay-to-participate programs.
LEADS participant Lori Dunlap said the goal of the event is to raise between $100,000 and $300,000 from residents as well as the corporate and business communities. For every $70,000 raised through the event, student fees can be reduced by an estimated $50, she said.
The goal of the fundraiser, the latest LEADS project, is to raise enough money to eliminate or significantly reduce the fees students are charged to participate in extracurricular activities.
“Everything right now seems to be geared toward the negatives coming out of the school district and our community,” said Jen Dear, a LEADS student and membership director for the chamber of commerce. “This is a positive to reaction to what’s happened.”
At its March 14 meeting, the Pickerington Board of Education announced that a flat fee of $500 per sport per student has been set for participation in high school sports for the 2011-2012 school year, increasing the fee by $290. Junior high student fees will increase from $135 to $325.
High school students involved in strings music activities will be charged $50, while the fee will be $275 for participation in marching band, theater and chorale. Some of those students also will be charged an as-yet-undetermined uniform fee.
“Our hearts from the very beginning was what do the schools need,” Dunlap said. “The concept of accessibility in public education is important. We want our kids to have as many opportunities as possible. The idea of what could happen if 30 percent are not participating, I just don’t want to think about that.”
The group is focusing on the positives in an effort to turn a “difficult situation” around, Dunlap said.
“We can show our larger community that we can come together,” she said. “We can fix this.”
Dear said the schools are under a microscope now.
“We want to be a proactive, positive voice in Pickerington to highlight it as the great place it is to live,” she said.
The event will include games such as sludge ball, relay races, concessions and more. Admission fees are $5 for adults, $3 for 12 and younger and a family rate of $12.
Those attending can vie for prizes based on a point system that will accumulate throughout the day on a punch card.
They also can “Rent a Ringer” by making a monetary donation to have a stand-in play a game in their place to earn more points, which will be awarded not only for winning but also for participation.
“Suppose someone isn’t very good at kickball,” Dear said. “They can go rent the captain of the soccer team.”
Student-athletes, band members and other students will be on site to help.
“It’s all in good fun, too,” she said. “We’ll have games for all ages and all skill levels. We want families to come out, and we want their 3-year-old having as much fun as their 17-year-old.”
Dunlap said the group is still accepting donations well past the event and into the fall with a completion of funds to be presented to the district at a 5K race that is still being planned.
An account has been set up at Fairfield National Bank where donations are being accepted at all locations from community members. Those interested in vendor slots or donations of prizes, as well as monetary donations, for the event should contact Dunlap at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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