By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
As this school year began, we checked in with both major local public high school’s PTSAs – and as the year ends, we’re circling back.
The changing of the guard was among the major items of business – the full officer slate for 2012-2013 is at the end of this story. But the major discussions involved activities sponsored/presented by the PTSA, all successful in their own way, and yet with room for much more participation – particularly Grad Night, the all-night post-graduation party meant to provide both fun and safety.
The WSHS Class of 2012 is the fourth graduating class for which a Grad Night celebration is planned; 2009 was the first year that WSHS offered the trademark celebration, and 200+ seniors participated. This year, as of the PTSA meeting on Tuesday night, 55 were signed up; arrangements had been made for at least 75, and fundraising has been under way to keep it as affordable as possible – including the car wash two weeks ago that raised $465.
The question the group grappled with – How to encourage a culture where everybody goes? And what’s the reason for not going? Many have family celebrations to attend right after the ceremony, it was suggested. Ticket prices might still be a concern, too, noted some. Lack of awareness about Grad Night is not believed to be a factor, as announcements were made in a variety of ways, both digital and analog.
It was pointed out that word-of-mouth, post-party, is a challenge, since the new grads are moving on to the next phase of their lives and don’t return to school to generate buzz among the next crop of grads.
Getting more families in the school community to embrace the annual West Seattle 5K is a goal, too, as discussed when the agenda got to an update on that PTSA-organized benefit. This event too marked its fourth go-round in 2012; this year didn’t bring in as much revenue as last year, but there were a couple of complications – cloudy/damp weather which likely suppressed last-minute signups, and a bigger regional run/walk event on the same date (Beat the Bridge, which will also be on the WS5K date next year). Costs of staging the race rose this year too, including what the city charges for permits and policing.
Outgoing race director Denise Lathrop also said that while the race was short on big corporate sponsorships this year, “it was our local businesses in West Seattle that came to play,” both returning sponsors and new ones. (WSB has been a WS5K co-sponsor each year since its inception.) In terms of participants, though, many come from outside West Seattle, according to Lathrop, so really marketing it as “our local event” to bring in more West Seattleites is likely to give it an extra boost.
Also providing an update at the meeting, WSHS principal Ruth Medsker, concluding her second year in charge of the school. Right now, the hiring process for next year is under way, she said, with several full- and part-time teaching positions open. Medsker also expressed relief that the brief possibility of changed bell times for next year did NOT come to pass, so WSHS will start at 8 again in the fall. “The year’s ending nicely,” she declared. Looking ahead to the start of next year, they’re setting the dates for events such as the back-to-school barbecue (looks like August 28th).
Before the aforementioned individual updates on this year’s fundraisers, there was a more generalized philosophical discussion about the proliferation of benefits for various programs, particularly individual sports, and whether there might be a way to consolidate and have “a major fundraiser a couple times a year” instead of seemingly endless one-offs. No conclusion was reached.
Last but not least, as mentioned earlier, the PTSA’s plans for next year: For one, they settled on next year’s membership fees – $15 individual, $25 couple.
Now, here are the officers for next year’s PTSA:
President: Tracy Burrows (photo, right)
Denise Lathrop, Jennifer Shaughnessy – Grad Night
Catha Elder – Athletics
Lisa Clark – Arts (photo, left – she served as president this year)
Secretary: Deni Mensing
Treasurer: Ralph Elder
Cashier: Amy Doll
Membership: Janne Endreo
BLT: Janet Jones
Once next year’s meeting schedule is out, we’ll add that to the WSB Events Calendar.