As a wrap-up to the school year, the Mount Clemens (Mich.) Montessori Academy Parent Guild hosts a patriotic party that brings together the community to enjoy student performances, food, games, and friendly competitions.
Each year, the event is held after school on a weekday around Memorial Day. The Red, White, and Blue Concert is the highlight of the event, which is open to MCMA families as well as the general community. Students sing patriotic standards such as “Yankee Doodle” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” The school’s music teacher directs the performance, and each grade performs one number.
This tribute has become a beloved tradition at the school. It honors veterans and active military personnel as well as teaches students “to respect and admire those who fight for our freedoms every day,” says Rebecca Rosbolt, a parent group volunteer.
“We encourage families to bring anyone with a military connection so they will be represented,” adds event cochair Kelly Hughes. “The children sing songs and dress in red, white, and blue. It is really special. The roar that comes from the crowd is something [when the children finish] and everyone salutes.”
At the concert’s conclusion, activity and food stations open. Kids and families mingle, play games, and eat. At last year’s event, the Parent Guild bought enough food to feed close to 500 people. “We cooked every last turkey burger and hot dog,” Hughes says.
Hughes and cochair Kelly Warner rely on more than a dozen volunteers, who are primarily needed on the day of the event for setup. Each year, the Parent Guild allots a budget of $1,000. The funds are used to cover games, food, and entertainment. In 2013 they spent the lion’s share of the budget on a bounce house rental and hiring a clown who made balloon animals and circulated through the crowd telling jokes.
The activities piece of the program consists of several game stations, and for the most part, the games are handmade and simple. For example, one event was noodle javelin, where contenders threw pool noodles javelin-style. The noodles were purchased at a dollar store. Another was a beanbag toss using beanbags borrowed from the school and paper plate targets decorated in red, white, and blue colors.
Food and drinks are donated by parents or purchased with Parent Guild funds. Last year, two MCMA dads brought their own grills and cooked the burgers and hot dogs. Dessert is kept simple; last year’s treat was frozen fruit pops. At the event, families stop by a ticket table, pick up a free food ticket for each person, and hand those in at the food station when they get the food.
Beyond the patriotic tribute, families get an opportunity to enjoy the students’ accomplishments of the year and just relax. It also gives them a chance to make summer plans with others; because MCMA isn’t a neighborhood school—students come from a number of communities in the Mount Clemens area—the Parent Guild likes giving parents the chance to connect and make plans before the last day of school.
“It’s a great way for families to come together and exchange numbers so they can see each other over the summer,” Hughes says.
Mount Clemens Montessori Academy
Mount Clemens, Mich.
500 students, grades K-5
How the Red, White, and Blue Concert Comes Together
- Set event date and rain date. Begin planning.
- Announce event date to parents with a save-the-date on Facebook. Teachers send an announcement to families in their classroom newsletters.
- Decide on games and entertainment. Contact vendors and reserve equipment (like bounce houses) if needed.
- Post a sign-up sheet on Facebook for donations and volunteers.
- Start shopping for bargains to make games.
- Send a reminder to families about the event.
- Make requests for specific materials or equipment that may be needed, like grills.
- Confirm availability of volunteers and give assignments.
- Finish shopping for games and activities.
- Start shopping for food and drinks.
- Purchase rolls of tickets to be used as free food tickets.
Week Before the Event
- Collect all materials for game stations; store at school if space is available.
- Assemble games as needed.
- Finish purchasing food; store at school.
Day of Event
- Set up game stations, food stations, and tables.
- Set up ticket table.
- Have fun!