Story and photos by VANESSA MEUIR
Cars lined the streets of the quiet neighborhood surrounding Parkade Elementary School on Saturday, May 22. The school held its annual spring festival and invited the families of the students, as well as all members of the community, to come out and participate. Truman the Tiger walked the halls of the school and danced to the music that DJ Jay blasted from his speakers.
Friendly firefighters gave children tours of the fire truck and passed out candy to eager, outstretched hands. Students were also entertained by a bounce house and dunk tank that had teachers on the hot seat. “I’ve got lots of homework for you!” teased a teacher just before his student wound up for the throw.
Indoor activities included a cakewalk supervised by a bubbly kindergarten teacher, Buffy Stapleton.
“This is an annual spring event,” Stapleton explained. “It’s a fundraiser for the school. The festival raises money for anything from books and supplies to field trips — anything the school needs.”
The two tables spread with brightly colored cakes and cupcakes were donated by the congregation of Parkade Baptist Church, which partnered with the school in putting on the event.
PTA president Amy Larson organized the event, using her personal connections to help raise money for the school. The school’s hallways were lined with rented booths set up by local vendors selling things like candles and jewelry. Traci Stiles, a senior consultant for The Pampered Chef, sat at her booth and smiled at families passing by. She was personally asked by Larson to set up a booth.
“This is my second year coming to the festival,” Stiles said. “I like to come out and help the school and help my friend.”
Stiles and other vendors didn’t have high hopes for making a big profit by setting up booths at the festival. They rented booth space mostly to support the elementary school.
MU’s Mule Club was in attendance, offering the children carriage rides as a part of the festivities. Third-year veterinary student Stacy Griffard said she enjoys volunteering her time to come to events like the festival.
“Educating the public is my favorite part,” Griffard said. “We all started as little kids wanting to be vets. I hope that by telling the kids about the mules, we start a dream for them.”
Children could venture outside to the playground to get their hair spray-painted bright colors, get fake tattoos and have their faces painted. Kara and Dennis Rohr manned the tattoo table, helping children pick out their favorite designs to be stamped on their hands. The Rohrs have two children enrolled at Parkade and enjoy getting involved in school activities.
“My favorite part of the festival is seeing all the kids being happy and seeing the families together,” Dennis said. “I think that all parents should be involved in their kid’s school.”
Many parents did get involved at the festival. Whether helping run the games or painting faces, parents could be found everywhere volunteering their time to help Parkade Elementary.
As Buffy Stapleton put it, “At the end of the school year, it’s just a good way to celebrate … it’s just fun!”