Ephesus Road Elementary kicks off education walk

Oct. 04, 2013 @ 08:38 PM

By itself, Ephesus Road Elementary School has raised more than $30,000 this year in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district.

Pumped up and ready for Saturday’s 17th Annual Walk for Education, the school community gathered Thursday morning to celebrate reaching their fundraising goal.

“Everybody had a hand in this,” said Ephesus principal Victoria Creamer. “I’m so proud and I’m so humbled by our parent community, our Chapel Hill firefighter community and our students. Everyone feels a real sense of connectedness and it’s a great way to start the year.”

Dressed in orange with energy to spare, the Ephesus Elementary student body - along with the faculty and staff - gathered on the blacktop in the shape of an “E” for a photo. Chapel Hill Fire and Rescue provided the fire truck and ladder for an aerial picture.

Fourth graders did a math activity to figure out the dimensions and size the giant “E,” making sure that each student would have one square foot of space. The fourth graders then arranged their peers according to grade level so that they would fit.

The Walk for Education is an annual event organized by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation that raises money for the district’s schools. The schools get to designate their donations for a specific project, such as classroom libraries, technology or playground improvements.

In 2012, more than 6,000 people participated in the walk and more than $90,000 was raised. The foundation has high hopes this year, given that Ephesus raised a third of that on its own.

“The Walk demonstrates community support for public education, engages participants in physical activity and raises funds for all our schools,” said Ashley Wilson, president of the foundation.

The festivities begin at 1:30 p.m. at McCorkle Place on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. Walkers will be led down Franklin Street at 2 p.m. by the Carrboro High School marching band. There is no registration for the walk. Shuttles for the carnival will start at 4 p.m.

Ephesus started fundraising during spring, when Laura Baxley, an Ephesus mother of two, promoted the event.

“Traditionally, the walk had been under-utilized at Ephesus and we thought, wouldn’t it be really great to get everyone in the school a T-shirt and a wristband,” Baxley said.

When a $25 donation is made, a student gets a t-shirt. When a $50 donation is made, a student gets a wristband that grants unlimited access to all the inflatable amusements at the carnival.

“Since the Public School Foundation already has the infrastructure in place, we knew it would be less work for parents by using their system,” she said. “We worked through the summer, meeting with people and explaining that this would be our one fundraiser of the year instead of asking for money all year. Now we know our budget at the beginning of the year, not the end.”

This year’s Ephesus T-shirt is bright orange with a road sign on the front with the number 17 written in the middle in honor of the 17th annual walk and “Hit the Road” written above it.

More than 450 T-shirts were purchased for the students out of the money raised so each student had one. And the wristbands, each student got one of those too.

With recent redistricting and the introduction of new families and students, Baxley felt it was important to bring everyone together.

Through small coffee get-togethers, Baxley and the other parents used a personal touch with the new families and raise funds.

“It was a great get-to-know-you tool,” she said. “We met new people, told them our ideas and let people know exactly what the walk was. Everyone was really supportive.”

Heading into the walk, Baxley is as excited as ever.

“It was great to capture that beginning of the year spirit and energy,” she said. “It makes me feel great because the school has done so much for us. It’s just one tangible way to show that we appreciate our teachers who nurture our children.”