Norwood’s Neon Run a glowing success

Norwood Elementary preschool students Colt Browning and Corinne Sylvis glow in the dark at the West Jefferson PTO’s Neon Run fundraiser.

(Posted April 16, 2024)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

They ran, they danced, they glowed in the dark! And they raised $30,316!

The scene was Norwood Elementary’s Neon Run, a first-time fundraiser put on by the West Jefferson Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) on May 19. Through the course of the day, each grade level, from preschool through fifth grade, got 40 minutes of fun under black lights in the gym. A live DJ, refreshments, and glow-in-the-dark hopscotch and tic-tac-toe were all part of the festivities.

In previous years, the spring fundraiser was a flower sale. For the Neon Run, students didn’t sell anything. They simply collected flat donations ahead of time.

“The run was a way to maximize our fundraising, and, by holding it during the school day, we could engage all students, whether they raised money or not,” said Kaylea Annen, PTO president.

The PTO’s initial goal was $15,000. In the end, students raised more than twice the goal amount. They earned individual and group rewards along the way.

“Our top fundraisers from each grade earned a ride to lunch with the principal in a neon pink limo,” Annen said.

Every student who raised at least $50 was entered into a drawing for a Nintendo Switch. The top earning grade level won a popsicle recess party.

Members of the West Jefferson Parent-Teacher Organization are dressed in colorful apparel, ready for their first Neon Run fundraiser at Norwood Elementary: (from left) Hayley Hall, vice president of events; Wendy Parks, treasurer; Kaylea Annen, president; Allie Sylvis, vice president of events; and Abbie Bendure, secretary.

Incentives to benefit all students were assigned to various overall fundraising benchmarks. At $10,000, the student body earned inflatables to enjoy on field day the last week of school. At $15,000, they earned an assembly by Professor Wow who will bring his science show to the school in May.

When the fundraising soared past the original goal, the PTO created a stretch goal: a makeover of the leadership lounge if fundraising topped $25,000.

Last year, the school turned an unused classroom into a place where students could meet up with high school student mentors to play ping pong, foosball, and cornhole, as well as put together puzzles, play word games, play Legos, and brainstorm conversation topics, among other activities. Teachers also book the room for special events and incentives.

“It’s a flex space for everyone in the building. It needs some TLC and elevation,” Annen said.

As for the $30,316 raised through the Neon Run, Annen said, “We can do a lot for students, the school, and staff with that amount of money.”

Glow-in-the-dark games were part of the fun.

The PTO sponsors field trips, guest speakers, classroom celebrations, and community events like the Gingerbread Jubilee in the fall and Popsicles with the Principal in the summer. They stock the school’s care closet, provide students and staff with back-to-school gifts, and provide refreshments for preschool graduation, DARE graduation, and the art show. The list goes on.

“We support Norwood’s day-to-day activities, offsetting costs for students, teachers, and staff,” Annen said.

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