Viviana Solorzano and Sergio Marti
Trunk or Treat Co-Chairs
The 2022 Cary Elementary PTA Trunk or Treat was an unqualified success. Naturally, we have a million questions for our Co-Chairs.
Why organize Trunk or Treat at Cary Elementary in 2022?
Viviana: Last school year, I was supremely proud of the way our PTA was beginning to help our school community emerge from the isolation of the covid-19 lockdown. The end of year Talent Show blew me away with how it energized everyone - students, families and school staff alike! Knowing that this year would be open to more in-person events, I decided that a fall event in a similar spirit would be a great way to kick-off the new school year. Having attended Trunk-or-Treats during the pandemic, I found them to be fun, creative and most importantly a way for the kids to gather for Halloween fun where they might otherwise be separated by neighborhoods or distance.
Ok, your minds were made up and the idea was solid. How did you get started?
Viviana: It was essential to begin planning right away, seeing as how our school’s activity calendar was filling up SO quickly already. Since we’d never done a Trunk or Treat before, and it relies on the participation of the school community, I sent out a limited survey at the beginning of October to gauge if there was even an interest in this event, firstly, and secondly, identify who would be willing to decorate a trunk. The response was overwhelmingly positive! We began with 16 interested parties, had 8 commitments, and ended with 12 trunks, all unique!
Judging from the event itself, you definitely had plenty of trunks. When did the treats factor in?
Sergio: With everything coming together, we decided the PTA would provide two bags worth of candy for each trunk, to relieve the burden of having to buy candy on top of decorating the trunks. We ended up getting 4 huge bags of assorted chocolate candy and 4 huge bags of fruit/assorted candies/taffy/gummies at Costco (and we got some wild looks rolling through the place with that much in our cart!) We divided those into one big bag per car. A trip to Dollar General let us put those mixed candies into big fun bowls.
Good thinking -- but there was a lot more at the parking lot than just Trick or Treating. What else was on your list?
Sergio: What’s an event without atmosphere? We set about making a family friendly Halloween playlist to play during the event. (Who knew a trap version of the Ghostbusters theme song existed!).
Viviana: It was pretty clear that there needed to be more to do at the event than just go around the trunks. After all, once you made the rounds, you’d probably leave. Having the community feel like they could hang around and socialize would be easier if there were games to play or snacks to eat. And so, planning an area for simple games that could entertain from kindergarten to 5th grade was next. Ring tosses were first to come to mind, as they would work in the parking lot area with minimal equipment needed.
I must admit that this was my favorite part of the prep; I love to craft and create! For the littles, I turned some plain buckets from the hardware store into large targets they can aim for, with a Halloween twist. Painting them so they turned into Frankenstein’s monster, a glam wicked witch and a mummy was almost as fun as the event itself for me! Some clothesline wire wrapped with purple and orange duct tape became customized hoops to toss. As well, simple little cones became pretty witches hats with the addition of a disposable plate around the base! Add some points values in tape and magic marker and voila, a test of skill for the more practiced hands.
I don’t know about y’all but events are significantly more enjoyable to me if there’s food and/or drinks available. There would be mountains of candy, for sure, but something that was more substantial, and being as the event was during lunchtime, had me thinking about other offerings.
A local, CES-parent-owned business provided sweet treats. Sweet Fare is a terrific new local bake shop who generously became one of our PTA sponsors this year, so we were only too thrilled they could provide Halloween donut holes, coffee and cocoa. It worked out so well, since we could purchase this and make it free to any attendee. We did run out unfortunately, but CES families are so gracious -- we were met with nothing but kindness and gratitude that we had offered this in the first place. We'll be ready with more next year.
So now everything is prepped and ready to take shape. What happened day-of?
Sergio: The morning of the event we loaded up our cars with a ton of candy, the games and the little popcorn cart and set out for the school. Our liaison with the school, Stacy Wilson, was there promptly on time to open up doors and direct us where we could get those tables, chairs and safety cones out of the school. Victoria Mata was also on hand to set up the sound system and get us ready to party! Without these two staff members, we’d have had a much more difficult morning.
I set out to build the popcorn machine, I realized it was a bit smaller than planned. 😬😅
As I was putting the machine together, Sarah Ralph, 2nd grade teacher who was there setting up her group’s amazing trunk, came over and said you know the school has a popcorn machine right? I was like nope! Had no idea! So she went and got the school popcorn machine and extra popcorn bags and got that set up and going while I finished putting together the smaller machine. This would in effect save the day! The popcorn machine was a huge hit! I couldn’t make popcorn fast enough. Once I was out and made more lines would form, waiting for the fresh hot buttery popcorn. We almost had enough for the whole event, only running out at the very end. 8 pounds of popcorn kernels gone in 2 hours!
The sweets table with the donut holes, coffee, cocoa and cold apple cider was a big hit as well. We had a lot of water bottles in the PTA supply room so brought out a couple of cases, too, and those were nearly gone by the end as well! The Dollar Store decorations were a nice touch, too, they really tied everything together - orange and black tablecloths, purple and green cups, skull head garlands!
We also want to thank Kurt Hilton, a professional photographer and CES parent, who donated his time and skills; we have an incredible gallery of photos from this event!
The event itself seemed to go off without many issues. We had such an amazing turnout, in terms of both amazing trunks and everyone showing up in costume. Everyone I talked to loved it. They couldn’t thank us enough for putting it on. Teacher participation and help was invaluable. They ran the games (Ms Tomick ran the archery game the entire time!) and put together great group trunks. The kids and families all had a blast. Can’t wait till next year!
As daily walkers, my son and I were so excited to join a larger group of folks for fun and fellowship on the way to school! We love strolling around downtown Cary between our home off of Kildaire, CES, our family's shop on Chatham, and everywhere in between but we don't usually have so many friends with us! This was our first year participating in Walk n Roll and it was really exciting to see families hanging out and hyped to go to school. Paws the Couger and the breakfast goodies were an added bonus. The PTA supplied chalk and along with a few neighbors we decorated the walking route on our way to meet the group- starting with lots of colorful drawings at the front entrance to the school and ending at the Old Library site where other chalk creations were already in full swing. The walk from the Old Library park to the school felt (and looked!) like a parade - it's great to see that many smiles first thing in the morning! Pups, scooters, and cyclists were also in attendance.
We are lucky to live near enough CES that walking is a daily activity for us, but frequent construction and redevelopment around us has impacted our pedestrian abilities significantly in recent years. I hope the pace of development slows soon, and that in the meantime the Town of Cary takes notice of the increased need for safety measures like better lighting and signage at crosswalks, intersections, and pedestrian heavy locations. It would be amazing to see older sidewalks get rehabbed for our friends on wheels, and the town to consider the needs of pedestrians just as much as drivers when it comes to closures and improvements.
We are looking forward to next year's event - til then, see you on the sidewalks of Cary!
We had an amazing time at the Downtown Cary Farmers' Market Fall Festival on Saturday (24th). What a beautiful day from morning to afternoon; it was a distinctly early fall morning in North Carolina if I ever felt one! I could give a detailed play-by-play of the 8 am set-up scramble or the truckloads of bottled water we ferried from the parking lot to our tent, but I think what will stick with me the most is having the opportunity to give parents and kids from all over Cary a taste of the enthusiasm emblematic of our school community.
So much about this event was delightfully unexpected for us. The Bookstop station was a huge hit: the Bookstop program Chair, Karen Thomson, hooked us up with boxes of books to give away for free, and a shelf to make a tantalizing reading corner area. When we told kids they could take the book they had been reading for 20 minutes, multiple jaws hit the sidewalk, and they looked at us like we were giving them free pizza for a year. Later in the afternoon, we had the pleasure of catching up with Margot Bennett, the founder of the Bookstop program, and her very friendly service dog. Margot has published 2 books since last year: Brisco, Life as a Therapy Dog and Ely, Life as a Service Dog Puppy, both available on Amazon.
Another incredible first came when we got to hang out with Paws, the Cary Elementary Cougar. She was in and out all day, but clearly had a blast meeting every single child at the festival, as well as many older kids, adults, and dogs. Paws is certainly a beloved member of the downtown Cary community. She even got to meet Mrs. Clause, who was at the festival reading to kids and making balloon animals from scratch. The only thing we were sad to see Paws miss was the festival Pie-Eating contest. We're positive Paws would have licked Chatham Street clean with 'em.
No matter how you frame it, you can't outdo the thoughtfulness and energy that the Farmers' Market team put into this event. If we weren't ready for fall before, we are 100% in apple-picking mode now.
There are a lot more people to thank:
Since my daughter transferred to Cary Elementary as a first grader, I wanted to find a way to participate in activities supporting the school that could fit my work schedule. And when the school reopened for in-person schooling, I saw that opportunity arise…the Bookstop program. And I was so glad I did, as I got so much back from the time I invested in the program.
The Bookstop program offers parents the opportunity to manage a “store” where students can exchange tickets, given by their teachers, for books of various topics and reading levels. Most of these books were donated by families and friends. Before the pandemic, whole classrooms would go to the Bookstop room to peruse the shelves like a magical bookstore. Once schools reopened with social distancing guidelines, the program was modified with parents wheeling out a selection of reading-level appropriate books to different classrooms based on a rotating schedule. The students were welcome to return the books when they were done, but it wasn’t required.
The parents would stand outside the halls during the morning routine, while kids sauntered in with their breakfasts in hand and their curious eyes to the wealth of reading options available.
It was a joy to see them flip through the bins of books either looking for a familiar series, a book on a topic of interest, or taking a chance on a random find. I’d see classroom friends cycle through the bins together, with one of them finding the rare literary jewel and proclaiming victory to the other. There were also situations when we’d help find a category of books for students and then see their faces light up when it’s exactly what they are looking for. It was really rewarding and something that many of the students were looking forward to.
And in a year filled with safety restrictions, managing the Bookstop cart was a great way to meet the wonderful teachers and staff at Cary Elementary. I was also able to sign up for my daughter’s class which was an extra boon as she loved when I ran the carts in front of her class.
Entering the school each day to volunteer reminded me of when my mom substituted classes when I was in grade school. I knew she found great joy in doing something at my school beyond dropping off and picking up. It gave her a deeper connection to the institution that taught and nurtured her three children. So, I wanted to feel that same sense of joy and pride. And volunteering for Bookstop was the perfect fit and opportunity for it.
Dado que mi hija se transfirió a Cary Elementary como estudiante de primer grado, quería encontrar una manera de participar en actividades de apoyo a la escuela que pudieran adaptarse a mi horario de trabajo. Y cuando la escuela reabrió para la educación en persona, vi surgir esa oportunidad... el programa Bookstop. Y me alegré mucho de haberlo hecho, ya que obtuve mucho del tiempo que invertí en el programa.
El programa Bookstop ofrece a los padres la oportunidad de administrar una “tienda” donde los estudiantes pueden canjear boletos, entregados por sus maestros, por libros de varios temas y niveles de lectura. La mayoría de estos libros fueron donados por familiares y amigos. Antes de la pandemia, aulas enteras iban a la sala Bookstop para examinar los estantes como una librería mágica. Una vez que las escuelas reabrieron con pautas de distanciamiento social, el programa se modificó y los padres llevaron una selección de libros apropiados para el nivel de lectura a diferentes aulas según un horario rotativo. Los estudiantes podían devolver los libros cuando terminaran, pero no era obligatorio.
Los padres se paraban fuera de los pasillos durante la rutina de la mañana, mientras los niños entraban con sus desayunos en la mano y sus ojos curiosos ante la gran cantidad de opciones de lectura disponibles.
Fue un placer verlos hojear los contenedores de libros en busca de una serie familiar, un libro sobre un tema de interés o arriesgarse con una nueva elección. Veía a los amigos de la clase recorrer juntos los contenedores, uno de ellos encontrando la rara joya literaria y proclamando la victoria al otro. También hubo situaciones en las que ayudábamos a encontrar una categoría de libros para estudiantes y luego veíamos cómo se les iluminaba la cara cuando era exactamente lo que buscaban. Fue realmente gratificante y algo que muchos de los estudiantes esperaban con ansias.
Y en un año lleno de restricciones de salud y seguridad, manejar el carrito Bookstop fue una excelente manera de conocer a los maravillosos maestros y al personal de Cary Elementary. También pude inscribirme en la clase de mi hija, lo cual fue una bendición adicional, ya que le encantaba cuando corría los carros frente a su clase.
Entrar a la escuela todos los días para ser voluntario me recordó cuando mi mamá sustituyó las clases cuando yo estaba en la escuela primaria. Sabía que encontraba gran alegría en hacer algo en mi escuela más allá de dejar y recoger. Le dio una conexión más profunda con la institución que enseñó y crió a sus tres hijos. Entonces, quería sentir esa misma sensación de alegría y orgullo. Y ser voluntario para Bookstop fue la oportunidad perfecta.
Assistant Vice Principal - assistente directora de la escuela
The PBIS/SEL Team partnered with the PTA this summer and it was so easy! Through funding from our wonderful PTA, our team purchased supplies that support the implementation of our positive behavior plan which promotes students’ self-respect, management of emotions, concern for others, and responsibility. We are so appreciative of the PTA's support and are grateful they are as committed as we are to continuing to make Cary Elementary School a learning community that focuses on the success of every child!
¡El equipo de PBIS/SEL se asoció con la PTA este verano y fue muy fácil! A través de los fondos de nuestra maravillosa PTA, nuestro equipo compró suministros que respaldan la implementación de nuestro plan de comportamiento positivo que promueve el respeto propio de los estudiantes, el manejo de las emociones, la preocupación por los demás y la responsabilidad. ¡Apreciamos mucho el apoyo de la PTA y estamos agradecidos de que estén tan comprometidos como nosotros para continuar haciendo Cary ES una comunidad de aprendizaje que se enfoca en el éxito de cada niño!