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Church saves Summer Bash

Posted: June 7, 2014 10:17 p.m.
Updated: June 7, 2014 10:17 p.m.

Valley View Elementary School students dance the Harlem Shake on stage at the Valley View Summer Bash held on Saturday in Newhall.

As the disco-era hit “YMCA” blared over speakers and Valley Valley View Community School’s 5th- and 6th-grade cheerleaders performed on stage, parent Alma Tejeda lost track of her two children, who had quickly disappeared into the crowd of several hundred families enjoying the school’s fourth annual Summer Bash party Saturday.

She wasn’t concerned in the least.

“They’re out there, somewhere, playing with their friends,” the Canyon Country mom said as she sat on a cafeteria bench with other parents. “We had other plans for today, but my daughter insisted we come here. She said, ‘Mom, all my friends are going.’”

Situated amid luxurious two-story, Spanish-tiled homes on Sierra Estates Drive in Newhall, the hilltop campus on the surface seems as idylic as its surroundings. In reality, nearly 60 percent of its students live in below-poverty level households, and several families are forced to move from place to place, with no permanent homes of their own, Principal Rick Drew said.

Every year, putting on the annual end-of-semester party for students is challenging, but this year it nearly became cost-prohibitive, he said. With many of the school’s families still struggling through the economic recession, Drew said the school’s PTA found it impossible to provide the same level of food and entertainment without asking parents to chip in and help off-set the costs through ticket sales. Organizers figured they would need to charge at least $20 per child to cover expenses — too much for many of Valley View’s families, Drew said.

“When you start adding that up for each child, it’s expensive,” he said. “I was just about to have to make the announcement” that the party was off this year, he added.

Enter congregation members from The Sanctuary Church across the street, who sprung into action after hearing about the shortfall. In two months, the church had collected more than $11,000, along with commitments from more than 100 volunteers who helped organize and staff Saturday’s bash. Church members served as parking attendants, security personnel, first-aide providers and more. One member, a professional DJ, donated his time as master of ceremonies at the entertainment stage.    

As a result, this year’s Summer Bash at Valley View, which also serves as the Sulphur Springs School District’s primary educational facility for children with severe and multiple handicaps, had more carnival games and entertainment and drew hundreds more parents than the three previous years, parents and organizers said.

And it was all free.

“We’ve been adopted by an entire church,” Drew said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire years in education.”


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