By Allison Collins
OTEGO – After many months of studies, meetings, deliberations and a final Feb. 13, 2017 Unatego Board of Education vote, the Otego Elementary building is now quickly approaching its last days. Despite that, the Otego Parent Teacher Organization has been busy planning how best to go out with a bang, for the sake of not just students, but staff and community members as well. An Otego Community Carnival slated for Saturday, June 10 from 12:30 to 4 p.m. will double as a celebration and a chance to say goodbye to a building and an era.
Otego PTO president Kristin Preston explained, “When the [Unatego] Board of Education put out a timetable on when they would make a decision on closing Otego Elementary, we began discussing what we could do as a farewell. Once that decision was finalized by the board, we ramped up our efforts to put a plan into place.” Preston continued, “The PTO felt it was important to hold something for the students and community to celebrate and get together on the school grounds one final time.”
To facilitate that, the PTO has planned a day of events including a petting zoo courtesy of Muddy River Dairy, face painting, carnival activities, bounce houses, fried dough, sprinkler fun, a community-wide parade, raffles, a student performance and art show and much more. Preston noted that funds raised through the 50/50 raffle “will jumpstart the Unatego Elementary PTO starting in the fall.” The current Unadilla Elementary building will be rechristened going into the 2017-18 school year in an effort to promote inclusivity throughout the district.
Specific to the Otego Elementary building, Preston said the recently formed Unatego Transitions Committee has planned a walk-through open house for June 10 to “provide an opportunity for past and present students, teachers, staff and our community to get together and share memories.”
The carnival will begin with the aforementioned parade, expected to step off at 12:30 p.m. from the Otego Fire Department, several members of which have volunteered their time and resources in preparation of the event. Preston noted that Unatego staff and area residents have also volunteered. Additionally, and dependent on the weather, the Otego Fire Department has arranged for the LifeNet medical helicopter to land at the carnival.
Otego Elementary interim principal, Pam Scott, along with the PTO, is encouraging anyone who can to volunteer before, after and during the carnival. “We need volunteers for set-up, clean-up, manning the various activities, planning and any number of other things … to help make this event a success,” said Scott in a recent school bulletin. To volunteer, call 988-6708 or email Scott at email@example.com.