LA GRANDE — Central Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Organization is working on fundraising to fulfill the four goals it set for the school year: promoting reading, encouraging outdoor activities and exercise use, showing school spirit and talking about diversity.

“Before, the PTO group would meet with parents every month to talk about things and organize fundraising events,” said Jess Hagedorn, Central Elementary’s Parent Teacher Organization president. “This year it has been flipped on its head, so we had to figure out a different way to do things.”

Hagedorn began meeting with six other members in her backyard to discuss how to best support students and teachers. They decided providing a lump sum of $150 to each teacher plus a bonus $100 per grade level was the first step.

“Teachers could use the money to purchase webcams, wall timers or other distance learning materials,” Hagedorn said. “In the past we’ve given $100, but this year we gave a little bit more to help offset the costs.”

Classes can use the $100 for what works best for their grade level, Hagedorn said. For example, the fifth-grade class used its money to purchase a subscription to a reading service because the school administration cut funding for the one they previously had.

Goal 1: Facilitate reading

The PTO also is partnering with Scholastic books to fundraise and provide a new book every month for every student. The parent group is working to raise $400 each month to cover this cost. They have raised $350 so far for the cost of October’s books.

“The great thing is Scholastic doesn’t charge a fee for this, so when someone donates a dollar it goes directly to the students,” Hagedorn said. “An $8 donation covers a student for a year, and a $25 donation covers an entire classroom for a month.”

Hagedorn said the PTO wanted to provide new books to students while they have limited access to public and school libraries.

“The books they have at home, they’ve likely had for the last seven months. We wanted to provide them with new reading material,” Hagedorn said.

The overall fundraising goal for the year is $3,200. Donations can be made at

Goal 2: Get students outside and exercising

The organization has teamed up with Jake Chamberlain, Central Elementary’s new physical education teacher, to create a monthly exercise activity for students to track.

Hagedorn said the students who complete the activity and turn in their tracking sheet will be entered in a drawing to win a prize that relates to sports and exercise, such as a soccer ball. One boy’s name and one girl’s name will be drawn each month.

“We picked an athletic prize to hopefully encourage students to continue to get outside and keep the cycle going,” Hagedorn said.

Goal 3: Encourage school spirit

“Teachers and kids are really struggling this year, especially when it comes to school spirit,” Hagedorn said. “So we wanted to do something to help with that.”

The parent group is encouraging parents to purchase new T-shirts and hats with the Central Elementary School’s mascot and logo on it. They also are getting masks displaying the Central Cougar for students to wear outside, and in the school building once students return to the physical classroom.

“We want students to wear their Cougar gear, even if it is from last year, on Fridays to show school spirit during their online classes,” Hagedorn said. “And when they are out and about, they can continue to show their school pride.”

Goal 4: Increase conversations about diversity

The Parent Teacher Organization determined its final goal would be to facilitate conversations about diversity by purchasing books for the school’s library and classrooms.

“We want to provide them with these books that talk about racial differences and other topics of that nature,” Hagedorn said.

The PTO used a majority of its funds for the lump sum to all of the teachers so now, Hagedorn said, the group is working on fundraising as they go. The most important thing, though, she said, is for teachers and students to feel supported through the PTO’s work.

“This year looks different not just for the kids and teachers, but for the parent too,” Hagedorn said.


Newest reporter to The Observer. Beats include crime and courts, city and county news and arts/entertainment. Graduated June 2019 with a bachelors in Journalism from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

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