Check out news from the Robotics tournament and information about ordering yearbooks! Click HERE to see the newsletter.
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.