Volunteers help kids learn in Cornwall

THROUGH A MAJOR fundraising push, volunteers in the Friends of Cornwall School were able to supply the school with a second tent for outdoor learning during the pandemic.

CORNWALL — The Friends of Cornwall School (FOCS) is a parents organization dedicated to supporting our children through numerous co-curricular and extra-curricular activities throughout the year. We recognize that part of supporting our students includes recognizing and supporting our teachers and support staff.
Providing these supports requires the use of numerous resources from many people and sources. This includes volunteer hours, donation of materials for general or particular purposes, and monetary support.
We normally get our financial support from three to four fundraisers throughout the school year. Some popular fundraisers over the years have been Family Photographs by Cyndi Palmer Photography (where a local teacher who has a side photography business donates her time), sales of Cookie Love cookie dough, and the Town Meeting Dinner.
In recent years there has been a sort of changing of the guard from one long-time core group of FOCS members with many years of school interaction, to a current group with mostly younger students who have only attended for a couple of years. The current FOCS officers — Chris Kramer, Molly Daly, Ian Ross and Melissa Mitchell — lead the efforts to continue supporting the Cornwall School Community in meaningful ways. This includes monthly meetings with anyone able and willing to be involved on that level.
Like most other individuals and organizations, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we had to shift from our standard operations and think creatively for new ways to support our school community. Last spring this included finding new ways to show our appreciation for all Cornwall school staff, maintain school-to-home connections, and observing the end of the school year and departing students, families, and staff.
We had an unusual first meeting for the 2020/21 school year in August before school even started to discuss the best ways to help kick off the school year on the right foot. This included providing extra supplies to assist with the hybrid learning model, a Welcome Back banner in place of the annual Back to School Potluck, and our first Letter Writing Campaign in several years. The campaign reached out to most members of the town of Cornwall (and asked school families to forward the letter to their own families) in an effort to raise some much needed funds to allow us to fulfill our mission in a broader way. A benefit concert connected to the West Cornwall Music Series put on by Dan Whittemore and the 3rd annual Family Photograph fundraiser rounded out what turned out to be the bulk of our fundraising efforts for this year by November.
We have been able to supply the school with a second tent of the same style that the school district purchased. As a morale booster Beanie-style winter hats with pompoms on them were purchased for every student and staff member. With extra cooperation from school staff, we were again this year able to provide COVID-altered versions of two very popular, normally volunteer-heavy FOCS events: The Harvest Festival and Gifts for Giving.
With some extra planning this year we were even still able to host our annual Town Meeting Dinner fundraiser. We were able to offer this meal in a pre-order, to-go fashion, much like the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department held its chicken dinner last summer. We had no idea how this version of Town Meeting Dinner would work out. Much to our surprise, we had more participation and fared better than at least the past three years.
With all this in mind, FOCS would like to thank of the community for all of the support we have received this school year. In addition to the ever welcome volunteer efforts and donated supplies, the monetary support to the tune of over $7,500 has helped the organization rise to the challenge of supporting Cornwall School through a very strange year. Leaders said there are ever so humbled to be a part of and in service to this community.

Friends of Cornwall School annual activities include:
• Back to School Potluck
• Afterschool Activities
• Harvest Festival (October)
• Gifts for Giving (December)
• Community Supper
• Town Meeting Dinner (March fundraiser)
• Grandfriends’ Day
• Movie Nights
• Teacher Appreciation Week
• End of Year Picnic
Editor’s note: This story was provided by Ian Ross, Friends of Cornwall School treasurer.

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