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East County Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2020 3 months ago

Together in spirit at Tara Elementary School

Virtual Spirit Week at Tara Elementary keeps students together at a difficult time.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Alex Colbath, a second grader at Tara Elementary School, had a method to construct a tower out of cardboard bricks.

He stacked two small bricks on top of another pair of small bricks before continuing with two longer bricks as support. Then he would repeat.

Once Colbath’s tower was complete, his mother, Sarah, who is the Parent-Teacher Organization’s president at Tara, took a photo and posted it on the PTO’s Facebook page as part of the school’s Virtual Spirit Week.

A spirit week was not scheduled for March 23-27, but with the school being closed due to COVID-19 concerns, the PTO thought a Virtual Spirit Week would raise morale.

Sarah Colbath said it was a way to keep the students together as a community. 

“We’re all in this together,” she said. “We can’t do play dates. We can’t meet with anyone outside of the school, so this is our way to be able to stay connected.”

Every morning starting March 23, the PTO has posted an interactive activity, such as a scavenger hunt, building towers with cardboard bricks or showing off pets, on its Facebook page. Then parents can take photos or videos of the students’ activities and post those on the PTO site, along with comments.

Families can also post shoutouts to the school’s teachers and staff members.

“This is going to be a trying time for everybody, and I think anything we can do to add a little bit of fun is a good thing,” Colbath said. “That’s what we do as a PTO — we come up with events for our families to enjoy. Now we’re not going to be able to do so much. This is our way to keep that fun alive and bring everybody together.”

Sarah Colbath and her son Alex, who is a second grader, work together to build a tower, which is one of the activities for Tara Elementary's virtual spirit week.

Lainna McElhiney, a member of the PTO, took charge of coordinating Virtual Spirit Week after she saw schools across the country doing the same.

“I was trying to target things that I knew would be around somebody’s house already,” McElhiney said of presenting ideas for activities. “While I hope that families can interact with their children, this is something kids can do if parents are still working or not able to have that time commitment to sit down and necessarily make a whole meal or do a science experiment.”

When the PTO approached Principal Laura Campbell about the idea, she was immediately on board.

“We have wonderful parents who want to help sustain our community school atmosphere,” Campbell said. “One of our common goals is to create lasting memories, and this will be a public showcase of school spirit. We collectively want this time to be about connecting with family and friends in a playful way.”

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