September Meeting Recap and Open Committee Spots

Thank you to the over 50 people who came out for our first meeting of the year! We are incredibly excited by your eagerness to participate and become involved in the PTO, and we know this is going to be a fantastic year.

The PTO meeting kicked off with an introduction of our fantastic Executive Board. We’ve got a strong team working behind the scenes to make sure our communications, programs, fundraisers and events are all well-executed.  Each member of the Board is available to answer your questions, so please don’t hesitate to reach out any time.

Open Committee Spots

Just as our Board functions as a team, we need your to help support (and in some cases lead!) a committee.  At the 9/20 meeting we highlighted several open committee spots, which are listed below.  The sign up is now open to join or lead a committee.

  • The O’Hara Foxes Club – (Chair and Members Needed) – We’ve set the OFC up and now we need someone to take over as Chair! The Chair will oversee the logistics of running the after school program and help identify new activities to include.
  • Family Movie Night – (Chair and Members Needed) Help Plan O’Hara’s first Family Movie Night!
  • Library Volunteer Coordinator  (Assistant Chair) Chair Stacy London will be moving on to DMS next year. Work with Stacy and Mrs. Fornari this year to coordinate library helpers and be ready when the Chair position opens up next year!
  • Assemblies  (Chair Position)  Work with teachers and principals to identify and coordinate school assemblies (1 – 2/year). This chair role does not require clearances (unless you want to attend the assemblies yourself!), and can be done behind the scenes.
  • Lunch/Recess Volunteers (Co-Chair and Members) Join Chair Melissa Troutman as the PTO works with the school to implement a new outdoor recess volunteer program. The co-chair will also assist with indoor recess bins and promoting lunch time helpers.
  • Communications Committee  (Writers) Tackle a topic of interest to be shared on our blog! You can generate your own or pick from topics identified by the Chair. Work behind the scenes on your own time schedule, or take a more interactive role by interviewing teachers/staff.
  • Yearbook  (Photographers) Calling all photographers! Help the Yearbook Committee capture the year at O’Hara! Photographers must have clearances and a camera capable of taking high quality photos for print.

Additional volunteer opportunities are detailed at oharapto.org/volunteer (click the Sign Up Genius button to see all open sign ups!) and will be shared throughout the year.  Lunchroom helpers with clearances are also welcome daily.  If you missed the form to sign up for Classroom Volunteer Opportunities, contact your Homeroom Representative or Sarah Blask.

Traveling Art Gallery (TAG) volunteers are also needed. Read more and sign up here: www.oharapto.org/TAG

VOLUNTEER

Budget Approved

September’s meeting included a review and vote on our 2018-2019 Budget.  Members unanimously approved the budget, which will be used as a guideline for PTO spending and fundraising goals throughout the year.  We are currently projecting over $5,000 in unallocated funds, after setting aside reserve funds for next year. If our fundraisers perform as anticipated, we’ll be making plans for those funds in the Spring.

PTO Representatives

At September’s meeting, we also met several of our representatives from the teacher staff, District Forum and PALS.  We’re looking forward to working with the teachers and these organizations to keep you in the know and create an open dialogue with our teachers and staff so that we know how to best support them throughout the year.

Principal’s Update

Mrs. Batis provided an introduction to classroom Themed Learning Centers, which kick off this week with 4th Grade, 5th Grade and Kindergarten.  The Learning Centers offer an opportunity for family volunteers with clearances to get a special glimpse at what their students are learning while helping to staff interactive centers based on a specific theme. The 4th grade class is learning about place values, Kindergarten is exploring lima beans, and the 5th graders will focus on preparing for Camp Allegheny. Each grade will host two learning centers per year, so look for information from your student’s homeroom teacher and volunteer if you can.

Mrs. Batis also shared that O’Hara will host a Showcase Night in April.  This evening will encompass the Art Show (and offer evening Spring Basket Raffle Ticket sales!), as well as other displays of student work.

District Update

The PTO is excited to share that each meeting will include attendance by a member of District Administration.  At this meeting, Dana Simile joined us.  An overview of information she shared is available here.  Dr. Ashley Nestor will join us in October to discuss Curriculum.

Next Meeting: October 18

We packed that all into one hour! We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at our October 18 meeting, which will be held in the evening from 6 – 7.  Detailed agenda to follow – stay tuned!

 

 

Your Look at the Week Ahead – Filled with Spirit!

We hope to see you at tomorrow’s PTO meeting from 9:15-am – 10:15am in the Auditorium. Bring your ID and sign in at the front office. Coffee will be provided! 

Next week will be spirit-filled as we celebrate Fox Chapel’s Homecoming. We’ve also got several open volunteer opportunities and a new class added to the O’Hara Foxes Club (details below).

DATES TO NOTE – WEEK OF 9/24

Spirit Week (9/24 – 9/28)

Students are encouraged to dress up and show their #OHaraSpirit! Email photos to communications@oharapto.org to be featured on our Facebook page!

SPIRIT WEEK

Please note: no spaghetti strap or strapless tank tops.  Students must wear shoes to school (no slippers or slipper socks). 

Reminder: Online Spirit Store Closes 9/23

You can still grab some great O’Hara Spirit Gear in time for the pep rally and Homecoming at https://www.fmgweb.com/ohara/. The store will remain open until 9/23. Items purchased will be distributed by 9/26.

Mobile Fingerprinting (9/26 from 10am – 6pm) – Foxwall EMS – Registration Required

In partnership with the Kerr PTO, a Mobile Fingerprinting event for the Act 114 FBI Criminal Reporting requirement will be held on September 26th at Foxwall EMS. The event will run from 10am – 6pm. To register and reserve a spot to be fingerprinted, please follow these instructions: http://bit.ly/mobilefingerprint2018  (Note: we are aware of some issues registering and are working to resolve). 

Community Homecoming Carnival Friday, September 28, 2018 (4-7pm).

In honor of Homecoming Weekend, the Fox Chapel Area High School invites community members to its annual Homecoming Carnival, with lots of fun activities, games, and rides for kids. Head out to the Front Lawn at Fox Chapel Area High School and look for the O’Hara PTO! We’ll be hosting a game and selling our remaining spirit inventory.  The football game follows at 7pm.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

Volunteers are needed in each classroom to help with class parties, field trips, Box Tops, and Spring and Thanksgiving Basket collections. Sign up today and let your homeroom representative know how you’d like to help:  https://goo.gl/forms/l7uaXmfYqBUfQps12

TAG is an art enrichment program in which volunteers become amateur docents–bringing art history, criticism, aesthetics, and art-making experiences to our students.(Don’t worry, no art degree required!). More information and sign up available here: https://oharapto.org/tag/

Volunteers are needed to help represent O’Hara Elementary School at the Fox Chapel Foxes Homecoming Carnival on 9/28. Sign up here:  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0d4daba623a1f49-homecoming

Looking for something else? Volunteer opportunities are posted when available at oharapto.org/volunteer. 

O’HARA FOXES CLUB CONTINUES WITH LAB RATZ SCIENCE CLUB

The OFC continues with Lab Ratz Science Club. Lab Ratz presents basic science principles in an engaging, hands-on manner- encouraging students to be inventive and creative, to question the world around them, and to make discoveries through firsthand experimentation. The Fall session is open to students in grades 3 – 5. Classes begin on Monday, October 8th and will run for 5 weeks from 4:00-5:00 pm. The cost is $70. For additional details and to register, visit oharapto.org/ofc or view the flyer attached.

Ohara 18 fall-2

March Meeting Recap

Thank you to everyone who could join us at the March 16th meeting. There were several great discussions at the meeting. Here’s a recap for those who could not make it:

School Safety

We know school safety is top of mind of late and appreciate Mrs. Batis and Mr. Edwards providing an overview of some of the security measures in place to keep our students safe. Keep on the lookout for future events addressing this topic.  (Note: for the safety our students, security measures will not be posted here. We hope you understand!). 

Courtyard Improvement Project

A new committee is being formed to tackle additional improvements to the courtyard.  Earlier this year the PTO purchased tables with umbrellas for the courtyard.  A district match doubled the number of tables to 12, providing ample room for teachers and students to take advantage of outside space.  Future improvements will focus on incorporating flower beds or raised gardens, with input from teachers on how the space can be best used. PTO members wishing to serve on the planning committee should contact Kristina Adams.

Teacher Stipends

Earlier in the year the PTO approved $7,000 allocated to teacher stipends.  These stipends have now been communicated to all teachers, who have until the end of the school year to use the funds.  Stipends were allotted by teaching units (e.g., 5th grade) and can be used collectively or individually as decided upon by the group.  We’re excited to see how the teachers put their funds to use and thank you all for your support of the PTO – this wouldn’t be possible without your donations!

Parent Concerns

This month’s meeting included time set aside to address parent concerns.

  • Beth Ruff presented information on the proposed changes to the DMS schedule.  Nearly 800 people have signed a petition requesting administration delay the implementation of these changes and seek additional input from teachers and parents. Update:  Per a March 19th email from District Superintendent Gene Freeman, the DMS schedule will remain the same for the next school year: “The district and the DMS administration will continue studying the schedule. As a first step, we are re-engaging in conversations with the Fox Chapel Educators Association (teachers). Next school year, while the FCEA and administration study the possibilities of a new DMS schedule, we will involve a small representative group of parents/guardians which will include the site-based representatives and an equitable representation from the community. Details and opportunities for involvement will be shared at a future time.”
  • Dana Rofey also shared concerns about the lunch “extra” policy.  Efforts are underway to restrict K-2 purchases of extras to one time/week. Already new restrictions have been placed to encourage students to finish their lunch before being able to purchase extras, as well as to limit purchases to one item.
  • Bonnie DeMotte raised concerns over student engagement and questioned whether there might be more opportunities for students to participate in activities during school that get them excited to attend.  Several parents echoed their support, and Carrie Work referenced Student Council programs in place at other district elementary schools.  An ad hoc committee is in the works to further explore options and work with the school administration.  If interested in participating, contact Bonnie DeMotte.

Notice of May 18 Election

The newly formed Nominating Committee includes Carly Warren, Kate Davison and Jessica Simms.  The Nominating Committee announced candidates for the May 18, 2018 election as follows:

  • President – Sarah Shaffer
  • Vice President – Nadine Carl
  • Secretary – Open at time of announcement.

Nominations will also be taken from the floor at the election, to be held May 18 at 9:15am.  Officers will be elected by a majority vote from members present.

Planning

Stay tuned for a survey asking for your input on PTO activities and communications.  We look forward to your feedback!

Save the Dates – Only 2 More PTO Meetings!

Thursday, April 19 from 6:30pm – 7:30pm –  Join the PTO for an open discussion.  Grab a beverage or food and join us in the Market District Café (Atrium).

Friday, May 18 from 9:15am – 10:15am – Calling all volunteers and PTO members! Join us for a special breakfast spread before our final meeting of the school year. Members present will vote on open Board positions and an interim budget. Committee chairs will also be announced.

 

Fill Out Your PTO Volunteer Form Online

Welcome back to school O’Hara families!

Parents and guardians are needed to help with a variety of activities in and out of the classroom throughout the year.  Please fill out the PTO Volunteer Form to express interest in upcoming volunteer opportunities or to serve as a Homeroom Representative.  You only need to submit one form per family (we hope you appreciate the reduction in paperwork as much as we do!), and it will take less than a minute to complete.

Also new this year, we are asking that you opt in to become a PTO member (see Section 2 of the online form).  PTO membership is open to any person who is a parent or a guardian of a child attending O’Hara Elementary School or any member of the O’Hara Elementary faculty, staff, or administration. There is no fee to join. Membership is required to vote on PTO business.  If there is a second member of your household who would like to be a PTO member and/or volunteer, we ask that each of you complete the online form separately.

Please submit the volunteer form by Friday, September 1st.

O'Hara Elementary PTO

Thank you for your willingness to provide support in your child’s classroom and at the school! We look forward to working with you this year.

p.s. Don’t forget that clearances are required for almost all volunteer opportunities.

PTO Meeting Recap

pto-officers
2016-2017 Officers (from left to right): Faith Moser (Vice President), Dana Rofey (Co-President), Tonja Condron (Treasurer), Sarah Shaffer (Secretary), Carrie Work (Co-President).

On behalf of the 2016-2017 Officers, thank you to everyone who came out to the first PTO meeting of the school year!  If you missed Friday’s meeting,   here’s what you need to know:

Administration

Dr. McNamara, interim principal, provided clarification on recent administrative changes.  As previously announced, Kristi Batis has been hired as Principal. Mrs. Batis is currently on maternity leave and will be begin October 31st.  A Vice Principal, Stephen Edwards, has also been hired. His start date is still TBD and will be based on his release date from South Fayette SD.

While Dr. McNamara and Mr. Winkler fulfill their roles as interim principals at O’Hara, they are available to address concerns from parents, and they are implementing changes that were planned at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

One of these changes was the switch to an 8:40 a.m. official drop off time, a topic parents requested be addressed at the September 16th PTO meeting. Dr. McNamara shared that the reason behind the change has to do with contractual issues. Teachers will now have a full 40 minutes before students arrive for preparation and planning.  Dr. McNamara stressed that all changes are being made with the best interest of both students and teachers in mind and are consistent with other schools in our district.

Interim Principals, Mr. Winkler and Dr. McNamara, came out of retirement to help O'Hara Elementary. Both have ties to the school district and have dedicated their lives to public education.
Interim Principals, Mr. Winkler and Dr. McNamara, came out of retirement to help O’Hara Elementary. Both have ties to the school district and have dedicated their lives to public education.

Several parents also expressed concerns over late and/or inconsistent bus drop off times.  Dr. McNamara took down several bus numbers and will be speaking with the bus transportation company to address these concerns.

 Volunteer Opportunities

Committees are seeking volunteers for several projects. Details for current opportunities are included below. All of these opportunities require clearances be on file with the school.

  • Traveling Art Gallery (TAG).  As a Traveling Art Gallery volunteer, you will make four separate 20-minute presentations in four different classrooms on one great painting. You will schedule with a teacher assigned to you for the months of November, January, March and May. Volunteers are needed for all grades and NO art background is needed. Email Annie Avondolio with questions or to sign up.
  • Scholastic Book Fair  (October 3 – 7).  Volunteers are needed to help escort students to the book fair and assist with purchases, as well as to serve as cashiers. You can select you child’s scheduled time at the book fair. Email Maggie Mulhern for more information.
  • Yearbook (year round). A great opportunity for anyone with a decent camera (sorry, your iphone doesn’t count!) to help document the school year for the yearbook.  Email Lisa Correnti to learn more.
  • Library Helpers (year round).  Whether you are roughing it in the stacks, cutting out paper flowers, organizing books for research projects, putting up bulletin boards, or making copies, O’Hara Library Staff can use your help year round.  Visit www.signupgenius.com and search using the email address “therehakfamily@gmail.com” to find available volunteer spots by month.
  • 5th Grade Day.  In beginning planning stages – email Heather Strittmatter to help out!

Great News

  • The school greenhouse is being revitalized! Once repaired and fully functioning, it will be used for STEM activities in all grades.  We’ll be sharing more about this exciting project throughout the year.
  • The Back to School Social raised over $2,100!  Thank you to everyone who helped make the event a success.
  • Apples to Students raised over $3,600 for O’Hara last year with 933 cards registered to our school.  All you have to do to contribute to this no-cost fundraiser is register your Giant Eagle card and go about your grocery shopping as usual.  Our school code is 0790.

Want more information?

Read the full meeting minutes here.  Questions and feedback are always welcome and appreciated – Comment below or contact the PTO Officers.

Want to Volunteer? Get Cleared Now!

This post has been updated for the 2017-2018 school year.

Parents and guardians are needed to help with a variety of activities in and out of the classroom throughout the year.  You’ll notice that school clearances are required for just about all of the volunteer roles.

Want to help with your child’s Halloween class party?  You need your clearances.  Want to chaperone your child’s field trip? Grab your official volunteer badge and get on the bus!  Want to help with the yearbook? You guessed it: clearances required.

It can take around 2-3 weeks (longer if you go the snail mail route!) to get all of the records back  and filed with the school, so you are highly encouraged to get your clearances as soon as possible (do it now!) so that you can take advantage of volunteer opportunities throughout the year.

PTO volunteer

The good news is, once clearances are obtained and filed with the school they are valid for 5 years.  Detailed instructions are included in the Volunteer Manual, but here’s what you need to do:

  1.  Register online to obtain you FBI fingerprint background check. Enter service code 1KG6Y3 (this public-school code is specific for a volunteer through the Department of Education).  The cost is $21.35.
  2. Get fingerprinted!  Click here for a list of locations.
  3. Submit your application for the PA Criminal History Clearance online.  There is no cost for volunteers.
  4. Submit your application for PA Child Abuse Clearance online. Again, this is free of charge for volunteers.
  5. Once you have received all of the clearance reports back, complete the School District Volunteer Application included in the Volunteer Manual and return with all 3 clearances.