By Rachel Emily Auton
April 2, 2014. The halls, gym and auditorium of Watauga High School will be filled on Saturday, April 12, not with students making up snow days, but instead with carnival games, popcorn, live music and an auction to support local after-school programs. The inaugural “Family Fun Festival” benefit for Watauga County Extended Learning Centers will be held Saturday, April 12 from 1-8 p.m., featuring entertainment and activities for all ages.
Watauga Extended Learning Centers are nonprofit programs that provide educational and recreational activities after school hours for students with working parents.
“We have eight Extended Learning Centers county-wide in all the elementary schools with about 300 students enrolled,” said Pam Shirley, after-school director.
Proceeds from the festival will go towards scholarships and operational supplies for the programs, which rely entirely on donations and parent fees.
“Besides the obvious things like crayons, glue and paper, we’re trying to get technology like iPads and laptops for the kids to be able to do their homework,” Shirley said.
From 1-5 p.m., games and activities will take place in WHS’s gymnasium for small fees, including face-painting, bounce houses, bracelet-making and more, Shirley said.
“Each afterschool program will be running their own station and that part of the proceeds will go towards that school,” Shirley said. “It will be affordable, we want everyone to be able to participate.”
At 5 p.m., an auction will be held in the auditorium with items varying from Appalachian State football, Hickory Crawdads and Carolina Hurricanes tickets to local restaurant gift cards and admission tickets to Dollywood and Tweetsie.
“We’re trying to make this a community event, it’s not just entirely to benefit us,” said Shirley.
“It should be fun for the whole community and the kids too.”
Community organizations like the Humane Society, Fire Department, and Police Department will have booths at the event.
“This is our first time around so we’re hoping that we can build on this and hopefully make it an annual fun thing for the community to be excited about and come out to,” said Shirley.
For more information on the Extended Learning Center program or the festival, call 828-264-7190.