A luncheon might not seem like a big deal. It is a simple thing, but it takes on different meaning when that luncheon is being provided by a local media organization that fosters family involvement, and when that luncheon was won by the hard work of teachers, parents and students collaborating to accomplish a common goal that benefits the entire school.
As the school with the most votes at the end of the three-week time period, Meridian Elementary won the first Gold Daisy School Contest hosted by East Mesa Macaroni Kid. Over 2,000 people voted for their favorite school that included more than 55 schools in the East Valley.
East Mesa Macaroni Kid sends out a weekly email newsletter with articles about crafts, parenting tips and recipes, said Terina Maldonado, East Mesa Macaroni Kid editor and publisher, in addition to highlighting local events and a calendar with affordable activities free or under $20 for families to do in the East Valley.
“It’s a great way to give back to the community, I think teachers are very underappreciated,” Maldonado said. “I know that my children’s school is always asking for paper and crayons and pencils by the end of the year, so they definitely can use the extra money for supplies and what a fun way to give back to teachers by giving them a catered lunch.”
Fifth-grade teacher Angie Barnard was appreciative of the luncheon provided for teachers and staff. “It’s one less thing you took off your plate, we’ll come up here and socialize. It was a nice thought…wow, look at this nice little break that we have today.”
Barnard also mentioned the instrumental role Meridian Elementary PTO president Randee Giberson played to help spread the word to the teachers and parents about the contest by encouraging them to vote.
“She’s always looking for things like that that we can win a contest or give us supplies or grants, or things that will help the teachers that will eventually help the kids…She was all on top of that, she was super excited when we won,” Barnard said.
Their win was surprising, Maldonado said, people could vote once a day per email address and Meridian wasn’t in the lead until the last week of the contest.
“It was kind of amazing, because they were in like seventh place for a while and then Randee was contacting me and she’d be like, ‘Where are the votes?’ and she rallied her troops—the PTO, the parents totally pulled together for Meridian to win,” Maldonado said. “They kind of pulled it off in the last hour. They were not in first place at the beginning of the last week, but the parents that consistently voted every day for that whole last week and that’s what brought them to the front.”
In addition to the luncheon, businesses and organizations in the community donated items for a raffle including one month of free classes from Gem Dance Company in Apache Junction, Vertuccio Farms donated a family four pack of passes and Bikram Yoga Mesa donated yoga sessions.
“We want to make sure they have the funding to be able to continue the good things that they do,” said John Baker, instructor and manager at East Mesa Karate that donated $350 to Meridian Elementary to go to towards school supplies. “We’ve been a part of the East Mesa community for a while and we like helping the schools around here and make sure they’re teaching the same things we want to teach, leadership skills and all that kind of stuff.”
Both Baker and Maldonado said they hope the contest will be held annually to help develop a strong relationship with East Valley schools and East Mesa Macaroni Kid.
To learn more about East Mesa Macaroni Kid, view their event calendar or subscribe to their newsletter, visit eastmesa.macaronikid.com.
– Mesa resident Alyssa Tufts is a freelance reporter for MyNewsMesa.