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Saving the Lake Placid Elementary School FRIENDS

June 13, 2019
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor (aflynn@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid Elementary School FRIENDS committee went to the brink of extinction recently, but it will survive - for at least one more year.

That means at least one more year for FRIENDS-funded events such as the end-of-school field trips, author visits and second-grade Christmas craft day.

On May 1, the Facebook page for this parent-teacher organization posted a letter - "ATTENTION FAMILIES" - saying that the committee was in danger of disbanding for the 2019-2020 school year due to lack of support. And parents were encouraged to attend the group's meeting that night.

Article Photos

Lake Placid Elementary School FRIENDS committee co-president Kristy Mihill poses in the school’s cafeteria Saturday, June 8 during the group’s annual Big Top Spring Carnival & Bazaar.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

"This year, we have had the least amount of volunteers and have not been able to do much fundraising without more hands," the letter stated. "Unfortunately, with some parents graduating elementary school and others who may be moving on after giving their time of a few years, this important group is in DANGER of extinction!"

This is the same kind of plea that went out three years ago, when the small group of volunteers said they would disband if they didn't get more help. One parent who stepped up for the 2016-2017 school year - and is now co-president of LPES FRIENDS - was Kristy Mihill.

"There was a big plea for help," Mihill recalled. "I had considered coming to the meetings, and I just put it off and put it off and put it off. And I was like, 'I can do this. I want to be there for the students. I want to be there for my own kids.'"

Mihill has two girls, Quinn, who is about to graduate from kindergarten, and Kaylee, who is currently in fourth grade.

"This year has flown by. I don't even know where the year has gone," Mihill said. "I don't know how they've gotten to be the ages they are. ... If somebody would have told me life goes by so much faster when you have kids, I would have already tried to take it even slower than I try to take it now."

Juggling parenthood and a full-time job at Workshop (formerly Adworkshop) in Lake Placid, Mihill's life hasn't actually slowed down. But she doesn't regret joining the LPES FRIENDS committee. Quite the opposite.

"I love being in the school, being around the kids, being involved in the students' lives as well as my own kids," she said.

This year was such a tough one for LPES FRIENDS finding volunteers that they almost had to cancel the Big Top Spring Carnival & Bazaar on Saturday, June 8. By June 5, however, enough people had signed up to help, and the event went on as planned.

"It's one of our biggest fundraisers of the year, so we make quite a bit of money that helps to fund all the events and field trips for the students that happen all year long," Mihill said.

The spring carnival included games, cotton candy, a silent auction, a lunch concession in the cafeteria, free books from the Lake Placid Public Library and a cake walk.

Mihill reached out to enough parents to help bolster the ranks of LPES FRIENDS, and members elected their 2019-2020 officers at the June 5 meeting. Other than the four officers - two co-presidents, a secretary and treasurer - there were only a few other dedicated volunteers on the committee this year.

Mihill blames herself for the lack of communication on the committee.

"I didn't know how hard it would be when I had two kids in elementary school, so having the one was kind of, I thought, was easy, and now having them both in school took a little bit more out of me than I expected."

Now she's focused on putting together some new ideas to attract more parent participation for the 2019-2020 school year, "more events where parents will be more aware of the committee and what we do."

What is FRIENDS?

The nonprofit LPES FRIENDS committee is the school's PTO and helps with fundraising and putting on special events. For example, the group sponsored Billy Martin's Cole All-Star Circus on Feb. 28, the Holiday Shopping Day on Dec. 14 and the FRIENDS Paint & Pizza Party on Nov. 2.

"We fund field trips, event days, supplies, various requests from the teachers and staff that aren't covered in the school budget," Mihill said. "And that helps keep the family costs down. It helps keep the school costs focused on more of the school curriculum. But instead of having the parents pay for all the field trips that the students go on and all the event days or speakers that come in ... we will help fund that stuff after we get a request from a teacher."

End-of-school-year field trips are an annual tradition at LPES. Students look forward to them every year. Each grade goes to the same location each year, so as students move from grade to grade, they get to visit new places. The destinations include The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, Fort Ticonderoga, Ausable Chasm in Keeseville, and a picnic at the Wilmington town beach. Without the FRIENDS committee, those field trips would not be funded.

FRIENDS also pays for school guests such as popular authors, special prizes requested by the school counselor and T-shirts for field day.

The committee meets monthly during the school year, and the meetings are about one hour long, no more than two hours if it's a bigger meeting.

"So it's not really that much of a time-consuming thing, but parents are busy. I'm busy. You just really have to force yourself and make the time to do it," Mihill said.

Membership is not limited to parents of LPES students. Anyone in the community is welcome to volunteer. Mihill said she's glad she decided to volunteer.

"Being on the committee has helped me make new mom friends, and it has, I think, helped the other moms as well."

Those interested in volunteering for the LPES FRIENDS committee can send an email to lpesfriends@lpcsd.org.

 
 

 

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