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Sandy Journal

Brookwood’s annual fundraiser attracted hundreds before COVID-19 shutdown

Aug 25, 2020 03:06PM ● By Julie Slama

Before COVID-19 hit, families pack into Brookwood Elementary’s art-a-palooza community art night fundraiser to support school programs. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Brookwood Elementary’s Math Olympiad, choir, spelling and geography bees, debate, math, science programs and other activities this school year might have looked a bit different if art-a-palooza was scheduled a few weeks later.

As it was, the ninth annual fundraiser was held about one week before schools were put in soft closure in response to COVID-19.

Typically, the event draws hundreds of students, families and community members to gather at the school to enjoy hands-on art projects and see students’ art on display. They also can purchase baked goods and silent auction and raffle items in order to raise funds.

This year wasn’t any different. An estimated 750 people attended the event.

Kindergartener Henry Jones wanted to get his face painted as a wolf. Fourth-grader Amelia Black liked the tiger and unicorn face-painting. Jessica Fullmer brought four kids who were checking out the fun art projects in the multi-purpose room. Susan Pohlman was looking at silent auction items, wanting to support her five grandchildren and be part of the community gathering that supported the school. 

Fourth-grader Willie Books, with his dad, Will, in tow, liked “The Jungle,” an art room filled with glow-in-the-dark paintings of critters such as tigers, monkeys, chameleons and snakes.

“I did a toucan,” Willie said. “I also made a bug in the gallery walk. We came here because it’s so much fun.”

His dad said making slime, getting balloon animals and face-painting also were hits in the multi-purpose room where teachers and volunteers lead stations that included texture painting, shape art, flower painting, and creating with Doughsie Dough themed playdough kits.

Throughout the school, there were gallery walks from “What if dinosaurs came with everything?” in kindergarten to “Underwater Adventures” in second grade to “Street Art!” in fifth grade. 

The themes matched what students were studying, such as kindergarteners reading a book and discussed what they would do if they had pet dinosaurs. They also explored Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and practiced cutting out shapes to produce creative landscapes for their dinosaurs.

In the classrooms, students learned about stop-motion videos, experimented with music and science, and listened to stories from retired teacher Natasha Buckner.

In the faculty room, families were told about the art of breadmaking, taught by retired teacher Debbie Stoker.

About 50 local companies and individuals contributed silent auction and raffle items to help in the fundraising efforts. Many students wanted wooden Brookwood school buses made and donated by woodworker Myrl Davis. Other volunteers donated cookies, cupcakes and other items for the bake sale.

Teachers in every grade created experiences for students to purchase such as a “Minute to Win It” game and popcorn party; “Bearintinos,” an exclusive Italian meal served by fourth-grade teachers; and several others. 

“We decorate as an Italian restaurant and serve spaghetti, garlic bread and salad and make it a lot of fun for anyone,” said fourth-grade teacher Kathy Smith. “But the ‘Minute to Win It’ party is just open to fourth-graders. This is a fun way to do a fundraiser rather than go selling cookie dough. The kids enjoy the night and get to do so many STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities.”

Some teacher-offered activities and parties were scheduled later in the school year so they were put on hold until a time when students can gather and take part in them, said organizer Abby Pohlman.

“We’re still hoping we can do them,” she said. “Many of our activities that night were free, but those with a fee, that money will directly benefit the students’ programs.”

Their goal of $10,000 not only supports student programs and field trips, but it also as provides teachers with additional supplies, the organizer said.

Art-a-palooza began in 2011 by Channa Vyfvinkel when Canyons School District asked schools to focus on the arts during the month of January. As the event continued, it was moved to March so outside art activities could be included and the event expanded to include the gallery walk. 

Fourth-grader Bridget Smit said she loves art-a-palooza.

“I like the teacher experiences,” she said. “I’ve done ‘Cinco de Mayo’ party, ‘Journey to Japan’ and want to do the floor hockey and pizza one this year. I usually buy cookies at the bake sale and my family has gotten a fire pit with lights, camp chairs and s’mores and a board game basket at the silent auction. I’ve played with PlayDoh, created leaf art and had so much fun making things at art-a-palooza. It’s great because it’s a fun night at the school, and then there’s more fun later with teacher experiences and silent auction items.”