Leaders of the St. Teresa of Avila Parent Teacher Group worked hard to plan fun activities for its members, but for several years, PTG board members were the sole attendees at the annual adults-only dance.

So group leaders at the Cincinnati-based Catholic school decided to overhaul their involvement plans for 2005-06, focusing on creating a strong sense of community and making parents feel welcome.

Denise Murphy, last year’s PTG co-vice president, says they brainstormed to find an event with more appeal. Several parishioners who play in a local band offered to do a show, and the PTG decided to head to a popular bar about a mile away. The repertoire of the band, Curly and the Q-Balls, is largely standards, enjoyable for both the young parents and grandparents who attended. The noise level at the smoke-free bar was low enough to allow for conversation.

“When we talked to people and got their opinion it was an overwhelming response that they enjoyed having it at the bar. You felt like it was a ‘real’ night out, and not just another school function, since it was not held at the school,” Murphy recalls. As a bonus, she adds, there was little advance planning and no set-up. The owner of the bar didn’t charge the parent group for the Q-Balls to use the space, and they paid the band a deeply discounted rate. A few of the men even moved tables out of the way to make space for dancing.

“After the show, people stayed around,” Murphy says. “One mom called her sister, from another school, the next day and bragged about how much fun she had. Her sister told her to make sure she calls next year when we do this again.”

Group at a Glance

Name: St. Teresa of Avila Parent Teacher Group
Location: Cincinnati
Community: population 308,728; urban
School Size: 386 students
Grades: K-8
Annual Budget: $20,000