By Amy Schechter

The beach is definitely the place to be, and Apollo Beach Elementary can’t get much closer. Students there absolutely have fun in the sun, but too much sunshine, like all Floridians know, can be a terrible thing. That’s why the Parent Teacher Association knew they needed to do something about it. Through the support of the community over the last two years as well as many miles walked by students in their Boosterthon Fun Runs, they raised nearly $44,000 to install new sunshades for the playground equipment and picnic tables so students and teachers can stay cool while playing and learning. They unveiled their efforts at the PTA’s Welcome Back Dinner last month.

The evening centered on a catered dinner provided with the generous assistance of Massimo’s Pizza & Subs who were happy to partner with the school for this event. Students and their families filled their bellies with delicious Italian fare and had the opportunity to meet new and old friends. Besides important communication from the PTA to kick off the school year, the students were treated to dinner and a show. Six talented terriers and one perky poodle, assisted by their human, starred in the “Tricky Dogs Show,” a circus style show that entertained the audience. The evening culminated in the unveiling of the sunshades.

Caren Katz, the PTA president for the 2016-2017 school year said, “It’s something really tangible to benefit kids. They can see the results of our efforts and use them everyday.” Last year’s PTA president, Michele Jones, affirmed Katz’s comments. “The community really came together for us,” she said. “The first year we raised about $17,000, but the second year, they stepped up even more raising about $26,000.”

The next phase will be to schedule pavers for the area near the picnic tables. Jones and Katz plan to sell personalized bricks that families, alumni, and community members can purchase to leave a lasting mark on Apollo Beach Elementary as well as create a special space for students to grow and learn. Contact or call the school at 671-5172 and ask for the PTA representative. Apollo Beach Elementary is located at 501 Apollo Beach Blvd.

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