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BCSD carnivals provide fun while addressing needs

Published Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Photo from Macedonia Middle School carnival

This photo was taken at this spring's carnival at Macedonia Middle School. (BCSD photo) MORE PHOTOS

Seasonal carnivals are popular events on several Berkeley County School District campuses – attracting hundreds of people and providing family-centered fun.

While PTSA organizers say fun is the goal, there is definitely more to the events than bounce houses, games, “fair food” and the cost of admission.

Carnivals at BCSD schools continue to grow in size and value as more people move to Berkeley County each day. For those schools, carnivals are or rank among the top fundraisers each year. The events are also built for community engagement – something teachers and administrators value most.

Cane Bay Elementary’s PTA hosted its yearly carnival on April 21st, and with as many as 1,000 people in attendance it was the biggest carnival yet. CBE PTA President Bridget Hermann said the carnival has continued to grow each year with the community, and it has truly become what it was intended to be – an event to connect with the families and communities that support the school.

“The history of the event was to hold an event that would thank the community for all they do for the school,” she said. “While the overall event has grown into the second largest fundraiser of the year, it is still a way for the CBE PTA to put on an event that brings the Cane Bay community together.”

Funds from this year’s CBE carnival will be used to purchase reading intervention kits and teacher grants to supply materials supporting classroom instruction. As the community grows around the school, Mrs. Hermann said she expects the 2019 carnival to be even bigger and the theme of family fun will become even more valuable.

Tucked away off Highway 17A in rural Berkeley County and within the Francis Marion National Forest are H.E. Bonner Elementary and Macedonia Middle School. With the exception of a fairly new Dollar General store about 1,000 feet from the schools, the nearest places to shop or dine are more than seven miles away and about a 20 minute drive if you get stuck behind a tractor or trackhoe. To say the yearly carnival is a big deal would be an understatement.

The carnival is held each year at Macedonia Middle, and it’s supported by H.E. Bonner Elementary. It has a more 15-year history that boasts what administrators describe as “classic carnival fun.”

“No electronics,” said Assistant Principal Amanda Bise. “…Just rides, food, games and fun. We work hard at MMS and we play hard!

The carnival has been one of the school’s larger fundraisers and while each year MMS ups the ante, the price of admission remains reasonable. Hours of work from staff members and volunteers go into the event designed to engage a community where the school is truly its heart.

Shawnna Chance has a child at each of the neighboring schools. She looks forward to seeing how the carnival will grow.

"I think the carnivals are a great way for schools to fundraise," Mrs. Chance said. "My kids love to go and so does our whole family when we have the opportunity."

For several weeks students keep behavior in check to be sure they are allowed to participate. To validate the carnival’s existence you need to only know that this year saw 100 percent student participation. While students played and parents mingled, $7,000 was raised to support a collaborative learning space at the middle school.

“I have been at MMS for the last seven years, and have never heard a negative word about our carnival,” Mrs. Bise said.

It’s a similar story for Boulder Bluff Elementary on the outskirts of Goose Creek. Principal Andrea Salters said the school’s PTO does a great job planning the event and getting family and community involvement.

“Family and community engagement is a crucial part of the success of our school carnival,” Mrs. Salters said. “ Our PTO and staff members reach out to numerous community organizations and ask for donations to support our spring carnival.  Various business partners donate items or allow us to use their equipment.  Actively involving parents and engaging our community resources helps us to have a successful carnival that will allow us to be able to address the needs of all students.”

Brian Troutman