Parley’s Park assembly honors Parent Teacher Association
October 7, 2008
Ray Timothy, Park City School District (PCSD) superintendent was an active kid. He told students at an assembly at Parley’s Park Elementary on Wednesday that his hobbies included tennis, skiing, camping, and biking.
Timothy then told students a story about a spelunking trip he took with his Boy Scout troop. He explained that, when he and his troop were deep inside a cave, their troop leader asked them all to turn off their flashlights. He said that it was the darkest place he’d ever been in his entire life. Then, they turned their flashlights back on, one at a time, illuminating the cave.
As a kindergartner, Timothy explained that students don’t have the tools they need to live an adult life. Each day they come to school, they learn a little bit more, until they’re all grown up. He said not knowing very much is like being in the dark, but each time you learn something new, it’s like turning on another flashlight in the cave. This is why, he explained, students need to come to school every day, year after year.
Timothy was invited to speak at an assembly at Parley’s Park that was held to honor the school for being chosen as one of nine sites visited on the Utah PTA Annual Road Trip.
Timothy’s analogy played into the PTA’s theme this year, which is lighting the way. The Utah PTA Web site explaines that, "as a parent, teacher, coach, or significant adult, you have the honor and privilege of being a guiding light, bringing purpose, direction, and example to the life of a child."
PTA stands for Parent Teacher Association, which is part of a national organization. Other schools in Park City have Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO) which aren’t connected to a national governing body. Julie Meeks, Utah’s region 9 director, explained that, by being part of the PTA, schools are connected to a national support group they can call on for help and ideas.
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Leaders of the Utah PTA take a tour of the state each year to visit schools they think have exceptional PTAs. The tour is a way for the state organization to show appreciation for Utah PTAs and its volunteers and to raise awareness about their organization.
This year they visited nine schools in three days. Marilyn Simister, Utah PTA president, said that, working at the state level, they don’t have contact with the kids very often, so the tour is a way for administrators to interact with the children.
Meeks remarked that Parley’s Park has one of the strongest PTAs in the state. She said it is hard for her to explain exactly what Parley’s Park is doing well, because the list of programs run by the group is so extensive.
Shawna Doughman, Parley’s Park PTA co-president explained that one program the kids get really excited about is the annual Scholastic Book Fair. She said that each year, they raise over $10,000 that goes to books for the kids.
Wednesday’s assembly, the first all-school assembly of the year at Parley’s Park, was organized to reward Parley’s Park for being included in the PTA Road Trip. The assembly opened with a few remarks from Michele Wallace, Parley’s Park principal, and a demonstration by the Summit County Color Guard.
The walls of the gym were adorned with United States flags that the students drew. A tattered, faded flag was displayed in the middle of the stage. Wallace asked the students how old they thought the flag was. The students responded with numbers two to three times their age. The truth is that the flag flew for only five days in Iraq, but even that short time took its toll on the fabric. Two of Parley’s Park custodian Dave Thomas’ sons served in Ira, and brought the flag home as a gift to the school. Simister said that one of her favorite parts of her visits to each school is the color guard ceremony.
A highlight of the assembly was a visit from McGruff the crime dog who delivered a message to students about respect. After that, John Canaan, a musician and songwriter, performed a few songs on the piano with the help of a few brave volunteers. He asked students to come up and help him play the piano or sing a song. One student sang a song for his entire school, making up lyrics on the spot, about his dog named Blue, who has blond hair and a lot of energy.
After the assembly, students were released to the playground where the entire student body walked the "Gold Medal Mile." Parley’s Park is a Gold Medal School, which means that they’re part of a group of Utah schools that have made a commitment to teach students how to live a healthy lifestyle.