It’s time to get ready for this year’s Science + Art Fair and Hearts for Harrison! Please click on the PDF link HERE for more information and all the latest PTA news!
Our next meeting is coming up on January 13th at 6:00 p.m. in the Harrison library. In addition to our regular updates from the PTA board and Dr. Haynes, we will also hear from Harrison’s wonderful counselor, Mrs. Dani Herzog, about using Secret Kindness Agents to encourage students to create a better and kinder world.
We’ll also looking forward to sharing information about Hearts for Harrison, a direct donation campaign that we’ll begin in February through the Omaha Schools Foundation. This will be a great fundraising opportunity for Harrison!
If you haven’t made it to a PTA meeting yet this year, we’d LOVE to see you! It’s never too late to check it out or get involved. Free pizza is provided, and childcare will be available (freewill donations are appreciated). Please join us!
The yearbook deadline is fast approaching! Please consider sending in any photos you’ve taken at Harrison events and classroom parties this year, or even just at school lunch or recess. You can send digital photos to Annie Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to all who have sent in their HyVee receipts so that Harrison can earn money through the Cash for Students Program. HyVee donates $1.00 for every $200 spent from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31. Please turn in all receipts to Harrison by January 10.
Winter has just begun! Please consider donating winter wear (new or gently used) to Harrison’s clothing closet. Donations should be placed in the blue bin near the Harrison entrance. Thank you for helping all Harrison students stay warm this winter!
It’s never too late to get involved! Follow the PTA on Facebook, check out our website, or subscribe to our emails by contacting email@example.com. Thanks!
● Current account status: We currently have $18,402 in the bank account; an additional $975 arrived today from the Omaha Schools Foundation.
● Our tax filing is complete for the year. Past versions of our 990 form have indicated that the fiscal year ends on July 31, but the IRS says it ends on June 30. Rebecca has adjusted our budget to reflect this.
● Budget/Expense updates:
○ We have hit our projections for membership dues.
○ We are budgeting for $700 in TAGG revenue. Rebecca asks that members
continue to use their TAGG app
○ PTA picnic: We were over budget by about $20
○ We have currently used about 50% of the teacher reimbursement fund.
● Rebecca would like to organize a budget committee to help make decisions about extra revenue, reallocating funds as needed, looking at shortfalls, etc. The goal is that we keep our budget dynamic rather than stagnant from year to year.
● Mrs. Herzog has organized a Girls’ Night Out. This evening will focus on authentic friendship and is intended to empower girls to help combat the “drama” that is often found in the 5th and 6th grade. Juniors and seniors from South High will also attend to mentor
● Report cards will be distributed at Parent/Teacher Conferences. Conference times will stay the same in the spring as in the fall unless otherwise requested.
● October 31 is Harrison’s annual Trick-or-Trunk parade and Halloween classroom activities. An alternative activity will be provided in the library for students who do not participate. Mr. Morris will do a safety check beforehand for those community members who are handing out treats.
● The winter program will be held on December 13 at 9:30 and 1:30. Band and strings will only perform in the afternoon.
● Harrison is partnering with Championship Martial Arts to provide an after school Martial Arts Club for several weeks. Students pay $25 to participate, and all the money goes directly to the school.
● Dr. Haynes is still looking for coaches for both the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams. Any Harrison parent or OPS staff member can coach. The time commitment is typically 1 night/week for practice and 1 night/week for games.
● Dr. Haynes is working with Hillside Solutions to find a way to continue our composting program. There was a problem with maggots on the side of the building where our compost totes were stored.
● PTA will provide a staff dinner of chicken and lasagna from HyVee for Wednesday’s conference night.
● This year, staff will receive Eileen’s Cookies to celebrate birthdays.
● We are currently looking for ideas for our annual staff holiday gifts. The budget is around $5 per staff member.
● The Bash Committee is still looking for donations. One possible idea is to donate a house party. Simply determine your theme and how many spots you are willing to host. Please talk to Molly Carpenter if you are interested in donating a house party.
● Sarah Wynn and Deb Heimes are working on securing the food for the Bash. It will likely be from Raisin’ Canes as it was last year.
● Charlotte Shafer has sent out a sign-up genius regarding themes for classroom baskets.
● Frank Luceri shared a little about the selection process. Teachers fill out a rubric in the event that there are more applicants than available spots.
● Practices will begin in November.
● Harrison will host a tournament on Saturday, February 15th. We welcome volunteers to help with concessions, set-up, etc.
● Please continue to send any pictures to Annie Johnson. She will be collecting pictures through Valentine’s Day.
● Scott shared that we had budgeted $2400 for Star Grants. We received requests totaling roughly $3000. We had $500 budgeted for Dancing Classrooms, but this program will likely need to be funded with other grants if possible. Scott suggested that we reallocate that money to fund the remaining grants. Angela Smith moved to vote on the motion.
The motion was carried.
● A new member has suggested hosting some sort of grandparents’ event at the school. Dr. Haynes suggested scheduling a day when grandparents could come for lunch (maybe in the spring). A read-and-feed is also a possible idea. Please let PTA know if you are interested in helping plan such an event.
● The PTA board is interested in forming a Cultural Diversity Committee. Harrison is such a wonderfully diverse community, and we strive to make our school community more inclusive. Some ideas are: Buddy programs for school events (BASH, Carnival, etc), International Day, a school cookbook, Culture Fest, the Thrive program (this is an afterschool program designed for kids from different cultures), World Fest, etc. Rebecca Firestone is the point person on this committee. Please email the Harrison PTA if you are interested.
Guest Speaker: Melissa Cleaver from Common Sense Media
Melissa Cleaver shared some eye-opening statistics: Did you know that that the average age a child receives his/her first cell phone is ten? That 98% of kids ages 0-8 have access to a mobile device in their home? That a third of all screen time is on a mobile device?
Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org) provides guidance on how to navigate the digital age with our children. The website has information on multiple topics, including:
· how to know when to buy a smartphone for your child
· how to handle/avoid digital drama
· popular apps such as Snapchat or TikTok
Parents can look up information by topic or by age. The website als provides the Parents’ Ultimate Guide to websites like Roblox, YouTube, etc.
In addition, parents can receive weekly text message tips on technology balance. Simply text 21555, type in the words “kids,” and fill out the survey to get started.
- Four Important to-do’s:
- Meet someone new
- Complete membership forms by Sept. 6th
- Volunteer to help
- Subscribe to the online calendar
- Rebecca discussed sources of revenue:
- Bash – this is our biggest fundraiser
- Carnival – last year was our biggest year. We raised $2500; after expenses, we made a profit of around $800.
- Hearts for Harrison – This is a direct giving campaign through the Omaha Schools Foundation. Last year, we raised $1500 without even campaigning. We would like to raise more this year. People can donate online (and earmark donations for specific projects/classrooms). We hope that Harrison families will encourage other family members to donate as well.
- Penny Wars – this is a competition between classrooms that takes place closer to the middle of the school year
- Rebecca shared some of the ways PTA money is
- Citizenship Student Awards
- Disney Musical
- 6th Grade Celebration
- Star Grants
- Teacher reimbursement
- Field trips
- Outdoor classroom
Sept. 2nd – No School in recognition of Labor Day
Sept 16th – Open House (5:30-6:30). This is different from the district-scheduled time of 6:00-8:00. Children are welcome. There will be pizza and bottled water available for purchase.
Sept. 20th – No School. Teachers will be attending Curriculum Day
Sept. 21st – Bocce Ball event at Turner Park
Sept 23rd – No School. This is a Teacher Plan/Prep Day
Sept 24th – School Picture Day. This could possible change as Scholastic double-booked us. Look for more information about picture day as the end of the month approaches.
- Dr. Haynes shared that the Harrison newsletter will be shared via Smore this year. This allows the school to save paper and provides easier access to digital documents. The school does have a Plan B for those families who don’t have access to online content, but most families do have at least Smartphone access.
- There will be no soccer this year due to lack of a coach. Basketball will begin in late fall.
- Attendance will be a major focus this year. Dr. Logan wants schools to drill down on attendance. Harrison is monitoring attendance closely, and Dr. Haynes will be sending out emails to families whenever there is concern regarding attendance. Poor attendance causes children to miss important instruction or assessment.
- August 30th is early dismissal. Kids club is open.
- Sept. 20th and 23rd are set aside for professional development for teachers.
- Harrison’s Bocce Ball event at Turner Park will be on Sept. 21st. This event raises money for the school’s Disney musical. This is the first year that we’ve had to pay for a musical license (it was funded by a grant for the past four years), and we still need to raise a few thousand dollars. The Bocce Ball competition typically raises about $1500.
- New T-shirts are available. The order form was sent home in the membership packet. We are also offering online ordering this year. All orders are due by Sept. 6th. Nicole Brown designed the shirts and is in charge of sales. If you have already ordered and need to change your order for any reason (different size, color, etc), send an email to the PTA and the information will be forwarded to Nicole.
- PTA doesn’t compensate the teenagers who babysit our children during member meetings. We will have an envelope available at each meeting for those who would like to make a voluntary donation to our babysitters. We are also looking for materials (puzzles, games, art supplies) that our babysitters can use. Please email the PTA if you have supplies you would like to donate.
Four Ways You Can Engage
- PTA Committees
- Star Grant: PTA allots $2400 to spend on Star Grants. These applications are due at the end of September. The committee refers to a rubric during the decision-making process. Committee members can work on scoring from home. Ideally, both parents and teachers (who did not submit a grant) would be on the committee. Last year’s grants were all funded. Some previous examples of grants that were funded are Brain Pop and Secret Kindness Agents.
- Room Parents: This committee is co-chaired by Charlotte Shafer and Molly Colling. Molly will be taking over for Charlotte after this year. Room parents coordinate the classroom Halloween party, Valentine’s Day party, and create/facilitate donations for the classroom baskets for Bash. Charlotte hopes to get at least two parents for each classroom, although more than two are certainly welcome! Each volunteer must submit a volunteer application (found on the OPS website). This should be done soon as it can take a few weeks to clear.
- Bash: Our biggest fundraiser is scheduled for Nov. 22nd. Ruth Farrington and Nicole Brown have headed this committee for several years, but are ready to begin the transition to new leadership. There are many components to planning the Bash: choosing a theme, hiring a DJ, organizing a big dance party, games in the hallway, and craft activities, and soliciting donations for the silent auction. Silent auction Items can include experiences such as a yoga night, house parties, a Happy Hour event, or a movie night.
- Outdoor Classroom: Angela Smith heads this committee. This committee is responsible for helping maintain the outdoor classroom. The Cub Scouts landscape it twice a year, but it needs more regular maintenance.
- Staff Appreciation: Jennifer Woolf chairs this committee. Projects are ongoing throughout the year. This committee provides a meal for staff at fall and spring P/T conferences, and a staff appreciation luncheon in the spring. It also provides holiday gifts and birthday gifts for staff once a month.
- Science and Art Fair: Rebecca is chairing this committee. The fair is scheduled for April to coincide with the final PTA meeting. The art component was introduced three years ago, and has been a big success! The science project is a 5th-grade requirement and will be graded. Students are allowed to work with a partner. Last year, the format was changed from an awarded competition to an event with feedback. Community members were recruited to be judges and provided constructive feedback to the participants.
- Carnival: This event takes place in May. Responsibilities included: choosing and organizing games (including the famous dunk tank!), securing food trucks, and securing/assigning volunteers.
- 6th Grade Celebration: This committee is typically headed by a 6th grade parent. The parents and teachers plan this event together. The bus picks up students from Harrison on the final day of school and takes them to the event.
- Classroom Support: Dr. Haynes answered some questions about ways to provide classroom support.
- What do I do if I want to have lunch with my
- Don’t come on Quiet Friday! On this day, students win prizes for good manners and quietness at lunch
- Check the lunch schedule on the Harrison website to make sure you come at the right time
- Do not bring in outside food. This is a district policy because we serve government subsidized lunches
- Fill out an online volunteer form. The link is in the newsletter and on the district website. You must fill out a new volunteer form every calendar year.
- What do I do if I want to volunteer in the
- Fill out a volunteer form. There are different levels of clearance depending on the type of volunteering you wish to do. For example, helping laminate items for a teacher is level one, but reading to kids is level three.
- Touch base with your child’s teacher at an appropriate time (not during dismissal or arrival, please) to discuss ways in which you can help them. An email is often best as if gives teachers time to think before responding.
- Be aware that teachers may want you on a schedule. Consistency is what creates support for our students.
- How can I support my child’s teacher other than
- Keep an eye out for DonorsChoose grants or other crowdfunding sources that teachers may be using, and spread the news to family members.
- Donate to the Omaha Schools Foundation and earmark your donation for a specific classroom/teacher.
- Financial Support for the School: Reference the “5 Easy Ways to Help Harrison” handout which includes things like Hearts for Harrison, Bash, HyVee receipts, and BoxTops (these can now be scanned online)
- Time and Talent: Consider your talents (design, fundraising, organizing, etc) and how those talents could contribute to the Harrison community. Could you create/facilitate a club? Currently, Robotics is the only after school club available at Harrison.
- Molly Colling: Thanks to all for coming. This is the last meeting of the year, and we have a lot to go through, but we’ll get through it in a timely fashion.
It takes a village to support all of our PTA events throughout the school year, and we’re so grateful for everyone’s help and support. Committee members, teachers, parents, volunteers – we couldn’t do all of this without everyone’s support.
- Lex Morrison: We have the proposed budget and our actual funds. Hearts for Harrison raised $975 but doesn’t appear on the budget. We were grateful for all who contributed. We had contributions from Harrison families but also from relatives and people living out of town. You can still donate at any time, and we will revisit this fundraiser next year.
The end of the year is when our expenses are the highest because of the 6th grade celebration, Carnival, etc. This is also when we pay for field trip buses. It has been a very successful year, and we are happy with how things went.
Penny Wars raised $634 which was down from last year, but last year was the first year, and this year we were running the fundraiser the week after a flood relief fundraiser. We will continue to do Penny Wars. The timing might not have been perfect. We tried this year to not “stack up” fundraisers with other Harrison efforts like Pennies for Patients.
- Dr. Haynes is under the weather and can’t be here tonight, but we will read a message on her behalf:
Thank you to all of our parents and judges that assisted with the Science/Art Fair today. It was another successful event – highlighting our students’ talent, innovation, and curiosity!
We are currently right in the middle of state testing at Harrison. We have completed week 1 – and have about 2 weeks left. This is for Grades 3-6 only. State testing classroom schedules were sent home two weeks ago. Please let the office know if you have questions about your child’s testing schedule. It is always important to get a good night’s sleep and breakfast – but during these three testing weeks, it is even more important.
Two robo emails (from myself) are scheduled to go out this week to all Harrison families:
- The first email is in regards to the
district’s Attendance Boundary Changes that were highlighted in the World
Herald last week. I’ll provide some additional info for Harrison families in
the robo email. Families can contact me directly, if you have questions
following the email.
- The second email is about Attendance. We have been keeping a careful eye on attendance this year and unfortunately, we are on track to have more students with chronic absences this year – compared with the last three years. Any student missing more than 7 days in a school year (not medically related due to hospitalization) is said to be “chronically absent”. I cannot reiterate enough the importance of good school attendance. Yes, we want students to stay home when they are sick – but on average that is typically only 2-3 days per year for most students. We have over 50 students at Harrison that have missed over 10-12 days of school this year. In my mind, as a mother and as a principal that is very disheartening. Many times, our parents do not even realize their child has missed so many days because they are not keeping track. I had a conversation with a family, just today, and asked the mother how many days she thought her daughter had missed – She said “around 5” – I corrected her and said “12”. She was surprised and very embarrassed.
Next year, we will be implementing a system that will give parents better data about their child’s attendance – so better decisions can be made about how and when a child stays home.
Please plan to join us on May
3rd for our Disney Musical – Aladdin! It is going to be the most
amazing show yet! There are flyers all over the school and we’ll be sending
another flyer home as the date gets closer.
Field Day will be held Tuesday, May 21st!
Reminder that the last day of school is on a Wednesday this year – May 22nd.
- We’ll be holding Kindergarten Graduation at 2:00pm in the outdoor amphitheater – as is tradition – and the 6th grade party, which you’ll discuss this evening– will be that afternoon as well.
- I’m sure you’ll be discussing all of the other May activities as well tonight – i.e. Staff appreciation week, the Carnival, etc.
I deeply apologize for my absence. I haven’t missed a meeting in a couple years and I am sorry it had to be the last one of this year!
My final words are just a “thank you” to our current PTA Board – Molly, Scott, Lex and Annie have done a fantastic job this year. It is a grueling job – with very little thanks and zero compensation – but our children and staff benefit greatly from the work of the PTA. My heartfelt thanks to this year’s Board and everyone who has helped on any committee or with any event this year. I am proud to be a part of such a collaborative community.
As always, please email me or
call me with any questions or concerns.
- Approval of January’s PTA meeting minutes. Meeting minutes were approved.
- Lex: Approval of 2019-2020 budget: Unfortunately the second page of the budget didn’t print. The new budget will look basically the same as last year. We bumped up the expected revenue from BASH since that has been more successful in recent years. One thing to note is that – if you are a 5th grade parent you know that they we didn’t do dancing classrooms this year – we left $500 in the budget just in case there are additional funds that arise for this. We made some extra money this year from family night at Raising Canes ($125), the eCreamery fundraiser, and the I Love Public Schools t-shirts. TAGG and other supplemental funds are under “other fundraisers.” We won’t vote to approve the budget until we have a complete copy of it. We will need to look in the bylaws to figure out how to do this.
- Question about Dancing Classrooms. What is Dancing Classrooms? This is a program where 5th grade students learn ballroom dancing. It is a very beneficial program but also very expensive. It was funded by a grant in the past, and PTA supplemented some of the funds as well. If people are interested we could do a special fundraiser. At one time we thought about offering an option at BASH to sponsor a student. It seems like there is a lot of interest, so maybe we could bring this up with Dr. Haynes again.
- Molly: We still have open board positions for the 2019-2020 school year. There are two monthly meetings plus the member meetings that occur quarterly. If anyone is interested, please let us know. We are all available and willing to talk if you want to know more. We do have some candidates who are mulling it over and we should know more soon. Annie has graciously offered to step into the Vice President position, leaving openings for secretary and treasurer. We hope candidates commit for two years because of the continuity required by the position.
- Motion is seconded and passed for Annie Johnson to become Vice President and Scott Gillespie to become president for the 2019-2020 school year.
- Disney Musical
- All School Matinee Thursday, May 2, 2:00
- Performances Friday, May 3, 5:30, 7:00
- Need volunteers for Bake Sale to sell concessions / donations
- Teacher and Support Staff Appreciation May 6-10th
- Food signup
- Gift cards
- Friday, May 17th from 5:30pm-7:30pm
- Look for Sign Up and Pre-Order Coming Soon!
- Invite your neighbors
- 6th Grade Celebration, May 22
- Stay tuned for more information on this as the committee figures out the outing that the 6th graders will do. The kids are so excited!
- Presentation of Wiese Citizenship Award
Scott: Jennie King will present the award and will tell more about the award. It goes to a Harrison student who has exemplified honesty, compassion, respect, courage, responsibility, and inclusivity both in the classroom and beyond. 6th graders are nominated by 5 Harrison teachers/staff and evaluated by those individuals. They score the students based on a rubric. What Jennie won’t say is that she not only knew the family but was also a recipient of the award.
Jennie: For many years, the PTA has honored a 6th grade student with a scholarship on behalf of Daniel Wiese, a former Harrison Elementary student who attended Harrison from 1975 through 1982. During Dan’s 6th grade year, he was diagnosed with leukemia. In 1982, Dan underwent a bone marrow transplant, which was first of such procedures involving a child in the State of Nebraska. Dan went on to attend Lewis and Clark Jr High School and graduated with his class at Central High School in 1988. Dan’s desire to help others with leukemia was a driving force in the formation of a support group at Clarkson Hospital for families involved with bone marrow transplants. Sadly, Dan passed away in the spring of 1989 from complications related to his illness. His determination to be successful and his positive attitude toward life are an inspiration to all who knew him.
In 2016, the PTA membership voted to discontinue the scholarship and create a new award to honor students who exhibit exemplary citizenship qualities while still honoring the memory and legacy of Daniel Wiese.
6th grade students are nominated by their teachers and scored against a rubric of criteria inclusive of their efforts in the areas of work ethic, behavior, academic achievement, interpersonal skills and the 6 pillars of citizenship: honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, courage and inclusivity.
It is with great pride that this year that we honor Ellie Yamamoto with The Harrison Elementary PTA Wiese Citizenship Award. Ellie, will you and your family please join us up here at the front?
Ellie, on behalf of the Harrison Elementary PTA, we honor you for your dedication to honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, courage and inclusivity and present you with this award. Please join me in congratulating these students and her family for their achievements. Ellie, congratulations.
- Science + Art Fair Recognition
Annie: As we’ve tried to communicate leading up to the Science + Art Fair this year, the committee made a decision to switch from a prize-based judging structure to a feedback-based judging structure. We’ve learned a lot about Harrison and the district’s focus on growth mindset this year, and we wanted to honor that focus in our approach to this event. Previously, kids who won a prize didn’t get any feedback other than “I won,” and kids who didn’t get a prize got no feedback other than “I didn’t win.” This way, they are focused on the process. We had a wonderful group of judges who worked through the projects today and who gave one constructive comment and one praise comment to each student. Every judge today commented on how much fun they had and how impressed they were with the kids. I was lucky enough to be in the gym this afternoon and to see the kids presenting their work. They did a wonderful job, and they will get to celebrate with an ice cream party on Monday, April 29th. They will get a certificate tonight, and they will receive their feedback from the judges at the party. Let’s recognize them with a round of applause.