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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 5, 2009

AES festival
Village invited to Celebrate America to raise funds for fifth-graders trip to the Bronx Zoo

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

ALTAMONT — Lions and tigers and bears — oh, my!

All manner of animals are awaiting the fifth-graders of Altamont Elementary School and their families at the Bronx Zoo,

The class is holding a Celebrate America Festival, and inviting the entire community to come. The festival will be held at the school at 117 Grand Street on March 6 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The goal is to raise $3,000 for the zoo trip, said organizer Jennifer Betancourt, the mother of a fifth-grader and one of three women organizing the event.

“We wanted to have a class trip the family could participate in,” said Betancourt.

Fifth grade is the students’ final year at the school, before they move on to Farnsworth Middle School, and, as a finale, they have traditionally taken a trip at the end of the year. In recent years, the fifth-graders have gone to an amusement park and raised funds by hosting an international carnival. Before that, for years, they went on a whale watch that fit in with a curriculum, Voyage of the Mimi, that is no longer used.

“This year, we’ll have good old American food,” said Betancourt. “The kids will have games set up depicting parts of the U.S. It’s an American theme.”

The theme fits in with the fifth-grade curriculum, learning about the states and their capitals, said Betancourt.

There will also be a silent auction, she said, and Kelly Stang, a parent organizer, is still accepting donations. Some of the items being auctioned include an iPod Nano, Wii Fit, a Sony video MP3 Player, two bicycles, a Guitar Hero World Tour Complete Band for Wii, and a RipStik G caster board.

There’s no admission charge; tickets for games, which are run by the kids, cost 25 cents each.

“If you bring in canned goods for the Altamont Food Pantry, you get a free ticket,” said Betancourt.

“The kids are really working for this,” Betancourt went on. To publicize the festival, she said, “They made the posters instead of the parents doing it.”

This week, the kids are putting the finishing touches on the games they’ll run.

“The fifth-grade families have been great, contributing to the success of the event,” noted Betancourt. “We have people gathering raffle items, obtaining prizes, planning the kitchen and food details, making decorations, and planning the set-up and tear-down. This is a big endeavor and it would not have been possible without the leadership of Terri Standish-Kuon, a tireless fifth-grade parent.”

She concluded of the class trip, “They look forward to it for five years.”

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