Their school and budget may be small, but that didn’t stop the Inyokern Elementary PTO from doing big things for students last year. With its location in an economically depressed area of the Mojave Desert, the PTO limited fundraising and prioritized field trips that allowed the school’s 166 students in seven grades to have new experiences.

The PTO made its $1,500 budget go a long way, providing a free fall festival to students with traditional carnival games and craft stations for all age groups. Realizing that some families do not have transportation to get to school on the weekend, the PTO held the festival during the school day so all students could attend.

The PTO supports the school’s Peace Builder program, allowing students who earn tokens for good behavior to redeem them at the school store. It also provides reading achievement awards and works with the school on Read Across America activities.

In addition to monthly appreciation luncheons for teachers, the PTO organized an ice cream social at back-to-school time as well as a track-and-field day. It also scheduled a visit by a shaved-ice truck, a highly anticipated yearly tradition for students at the desert school.