Corte Madera's eighth-grade trip is a 'go' | November 7, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Community - November 7, 2012

Corte Madera's eighth-grade trip is a 'go'

Corte Madera School community rallies to raise money in face of district's financial crisis

by Renee Batti

It's Washington, D.C., or bust — and "bust" isn't an option for the students and school community of Corte Madera School, who managed to raise more than $21,000 in two weeks when funding for the traditional eighth-grade trip to the nation's capital was threatened by the district's budget crisis.

With only two fundraising events, students, parents, teachers and other school staff pulled together and surpassed the goal of raising $21,500 for the week-long springtime trip, with any additional funds reserved for future eighth-grade trips.

The bulk of the funds were raised on Nov. 2, with a "Walk-to-Washington Walkathon," a festive afternoon event that generated $18,000 and whose participants included Corte Madera students at all grade levels — fourth through eighth grade.

The walkathon "was an inaugural CMS community-building event that brought all students, staff, administration and parents together in the true spirit of fundraising for a united educational cause," wrote parent and organizer Lisa Bair in a letter after the event.

In prior years, the district paid for all or most of the traditional trip. Last year, it kicked in more than $40,000, according to Sandra Lepley, the district's interim business official.

But this year, the ground crumbled beneath the tradition as a result of the fiscal crisis created by the misappropriation and embezzlement of funds by then-superintendent Tim Hanretty. For fiscal year 2012-13, the board cut the district's funding for the trip, saying that the eighth-graders were still authorized to travel to D.C. if the trip was "cost-neutral" to the district.

That's when the community rallied. The warm-up to the walkathon was a car wash and bake sale, held on Oct. 20 at the school. Ron Ramies, owner and operator of Portola Valley Fuel, donated supplies and some of his crew for the car wash, the kids rolled up their sleeves, and the effort raised $3,500.

In addition to Ms. Bair, who has led the fundraising effort, parents Tricia Law and Sally Ann Reiss are co-chairs of the D.C. trip effort, working with Corte Madera principal Michael Corritone on all aspects of the trip, Ms. Bair said.

The eight-grade trip to the nation's capital "is definitely something that all Corte Madera students look forward to ... forever!" eighth-grader Regan Castillo said in an email to the Almanac.

Calling it "an opportunity trip," Regan said she and her classmates will have the chance "to absorb the historical aspects of our United States history and the Holocaust that we have been learning about from our teachers at school." (They will visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as well as a number of national monuments.)

"It is also an opportunity to be with our friends in a great city where we can reflect upon our nine years together in a very fun and memorable way before we go off to numerous high schools," she said.