Harney, pto

Fourth-grade teacher Bernardo Rodriguez didn’t mind getting a little wet at the Harney Elementary School carnival. He willingly sat under a dangling water balloon while students lined up for a chance to hit a target and release the balloon onto his head. For Rodriguez and fellow teacher Juan Mendoza, getting wet was a sacrifice they were happy to make for the students at Harney Elementary. The money raised at the Parent-Teacher Organization–sponsored carnival directly benefited students.

“It’s awesome to get everyone together,” said Mendoza as he loaded water balloons into the net above Rodriquez’s head.

The Oct. 7 Harney Carney drew hundreds of students, parents and other family members to the school for food, games, face painting, cakewalks and hands-on activities. The popular school carnival has a long history at Harney, but this year marked a special celebration.

“I want to thank our PTO and the Outdoor Committee for their work in making the wonderful new path around our playground a reality,” announced Principal Lucy Estrada-Guzman to the carnival crowd. The path was completed in August just before school started.

PTO President Chelyncia Schoonmaker said, “We’re extremely grateful to Harney parents, families, and the Harney community who helped make the Harney Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds benefit auction such a success! For the past two years the auction has raised money to create an outdoor learning space for our students. Nearly $60,000 was raised to build our path.”

The path is the first of a three-phase plan for the outdoor learning space, said Misty Hamideh, a member of the Outdoor Committee. The one-fifth-mile path circles the play field, connecting the adjacent neighborhood sidewalks to the school. The path also will connect to future phases of a plan to create an outdoor classroom and nature play area on the school grounds.

In addition to Hamideh, members of the Outdoor Committee include Chad McMurry, Trevor Hayward, Katie Siewert, John Benson, Duke Geren, Charlotte Pellens and Chair Chris Malone. The committee is working with landscape architect and VPS parent Jane Tesner Kleiner. Last May, Tesner Kleiner received the 2016 Washington Association of School Administrators’ Community Leadership Award for the Columbia River region for her volunteer work to create an outdoor learning lab at Hough Elementary School.