By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — It’s not just about baking cookies anymore.
At East Derry Memorial Elementary School, more than 80 students enjoyed a summer program to brush up on math and reading skills — all made possible by the school’s PTA.
Today’s Parent Teacher Organization is alive and well and making a big mark on the landscapes of local schools, helping raising much-needed money to support not only the classroom parties, but major upgrades and renovations.
East Derry’s PTA windfall not only came in the form of the summer classroom program, but the school also received a new $7,000 speaker system for the school’s cafeteria and gymnasium area.
East Derry principal Kim Carpentino said the outdated system had seen better days.
“We would wheel it out on a cart, plug in these mikes and pull old, heavy cables,” she said.
The new system was a godsend.
“I feel so fortunate they wanted to do this for the school,” she said.
It’s a bargain to join the PTA. An individual membership costs $5 and a family can join for $8. Both families and teachers join the groups for an added connection to boost the school.
Carpentino said the Derry district hosts a schoolwide summer enrichment program, but the East Derry school had the added perk of having its own summer classroom program, thanks to the PTA
“We would have had no funds at all,” she said. “There’s no way we could do anything like this without the PTA.”
Many schools host a long list of PTA-sponsored events throughout the year.
Derry Village Elementary School in Derry enjoys a seemingly never-ending list of programs and activities, including the annual Reflections student art program, field trips, special guest speakers, reading programs, enrichment classes and parties.
Ernest P. Barka Elementary unveiled its new butterfly garden in June — a school-wide project done in concert with volunteers and PTA support.
PTA funding help secure an artist-in-residence to help the school with its garden mission.
School playgrounds also get a lot of care thanks to PTA volunteers. A spring cleanup gave South Range Elementary’s playground a new life in May.
Volunteers planted five apple trees during the afternoon project. They also planted some herbs in a garden that will be used for a future school project.