Students, PTO bring in ZipKrooz
Thanks to the initiative of one student, and the input of many others, Tatanka Elementary STEM School has a fun new playground feature this school year.
It all started in 2021 when a student wrote a letter to the Tatanka Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) requesting that the school’s tire swing be repaired, or a second tire swing added.
“The existing tire swing was already set to be repaired, so we used this opportunity to ask the students at Tatanka what they would like to see if a playground addition could be funded,” said PTO member Emily Starry, who led the effort. “The PTO obtained information on a few different options, and photos of each were displayed for each student to vote for their top choice. The ZipKrooz was the overwhelming winner, so the brainstorming began to fund this project!”
Over the next two years, the PTO raised funds through a read-a-thon, a silent auction at Family Engineering Night, the STEMpede 5K, t-shirt sales, coin drives, book fairs, personal and business donations, and more. The equipment itself carried a cost of $13,000, but extensive sitework needed to expand and level the playground area pushed the overall project cost closer to $40,000.
“Our Tatanka community (students, caregivers, grandparents, friends) worked so hard to get the funding necessary to make this happen!” said Tatanka Principal Andrée Iden.
“We are extremely grateful that the TESS community so generously contributed to all our fundraising efforts to make this dream a reality for the students at TESS,” added Starry.
The equipment, similar to a two-way zip line, was installed this summer and has been an instant hit with students.
“The ZipKrooz is a really fun addition to our playground, allowing students to gain self-confidence, coordination and another outlet for imaginative play,” said Iden. “Beyond the physical and mental benefits this addition to the playground will have for our school community, I am especially proud of how students were able to advocate with their own voice and choices to bring this addition to our school. The ZipKrooz is a representation of how students can work collectively to bring positive change to their school!”
While a majority of the PTO’s fundraising efforts were focused on acquiring the ZipKrooz over the past two years, it also continued its support of the school in many other ways, including addressing teacher requests, providing snacks and gifts for staff and students, contributing to the Angel fund, covering background check fees, and providing field trip support.
“Looking ahead, we would like to continue to do everything we can to support the amazing educators at TESS,” said Starry. “We are meeting soon to plan events/fundraisers for the upcoming school year to continue these efforts. One objective on our radar is to help provide financial support to fund Sound Clouds for the TESS cafeteria so it can be a quieter, more enjoyable environment for all students.”
Anyone who would like to get involved with the Tatanka PTO is welcome to contact the group by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have an incredible group of Tatanka caregivers who volunteer countless hours and resources to support our school community,” Iden said. “This team has been instrumental in providing feedback on how we can continue to enhance the learning experience for all of our learners here at Tatanka. Each member of our PTO board actively centers what is best for Tatanka students in all of their decisions. I feel so fortunate to partner with such wonderful families!”
• If you would like to join a PTO group, or help start one at your school, contact your school principal for information.