Armatage Family Fun Walk brings support and dollars to school

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A few weeks ago, Armatage Community and Montessori School held a groundbreaking new event known as the Family Fun Walk. Besides bringing the community together in support of our school, the walk raised $26,000 — $10,000 more than catalog sales fundraising did in 2006.

(Principal Joan Franks wore the costume of Foster the Blue Kangaroo (Armatage school mascot) and hopped around the halls on the Tuesday after the event, as she pledged to do if the fundraising goal was met.)

For years, Armatage has raised money by turning students into salespersons, selling merchandise such as candy and wrapping paper from catalogs. Last spring, Armatage parents decided they could do more. They decided that fundraising could double as an opportunity to educate and inspire students as well as building relationships between the school and the community. In a very risky move for the PTA’s fiscal well being, catalog sales were dropped in favor of a Fun Walk event. This event, held on Saturday morning, Oct 27, with a kick off dinner the night before, engaged more than half of the student population and garnered support of dozens of local businesses. More than 200 children walked at least one lap around the school and park (.88 miles). Most walked even more, and 20% of participating students did 5.2 miles.

This event was groundbreaking in the sense that it fostered volunteerism, community, and an enthusiasm for fitness in a way that is unique for elementary schools of our size and demographics. [Armatage is both a community and a Montessori school with current enrollment of 475 students, kindergarten through 5th grade. It serves a highly diverse population, with 32% of students receiving free or reduced lunch. Armatage has made AYP (annual yearly progress) through 2006. It is the only southwest elementary school with a CLASS program and a gifted and talented program. Located on 56th Street between Penn and Sheridan in Minneapolis, Armatage shares space with Armatage Park.

The money raised will go to support programs such as Art Adventure, Kids on Broadway, field trips and block grants to individual classrooms.

Armatage parent Seth Kirk said, ” This was an excellent, healthy, energizing, community-building event and was such a wonderful alternative to our traditional wrapping paper sales fundraiser. I look forward to next year!”

Nan Carlson is an Armatage parent.

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