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Kelso hopes to attract dads after movie night

Elementary school tries to recruit more male volunteers

Despite all the support that Kelso Elementary gets from its community club, one thing missing is male role models.

On Friday, Feb. 21, the school held a movie night trying to bring in male volunteers to the school. The event showed Disney Pixar’s “Planes” and offered free admission for students who brought one of their favorite men.

“I was really surprised at the number of grandpas we got,” said Kelso Principal Katie Schweitzer. “I met a bunch of dads I had never met before.”

At the event, Kelso’s Community Club handed out background check forms so dads and grandpas could get on the road to volunteering, but it is not often that Kelso gets those volunteers into the school.

Kelso’s staff and volunteer pool is mostly female, and Schweitzer said she does not think it is the only elementary school with this problem.

First-grade teacher Caitlin Rutherford said she uses volunteers for everything in her classroom, not just arts and crafts. She uses volunteers for making copies, creating organization, heading one on one reading with the kids, and “everything under the sun,” she said.

She agreed that male volunteers are hit or miss at the school, often showing up only for parties and field trips.

“It would be nice to have that other perspective,” Rutherford said, adding it’s possible that some students may not have a father figure in their life and might benefit from that relationship. Or maybe they would respond better to a different perspective.

Missy McKinnon has been involved with the community club for four years and said the club has had only one dad show up, once.

She agreed it would be nice to have that extra perspective in the exchange of ideas.

“Especially when we raffle off the Traeger grill this year,” McKinnon said. “Having a guy out there might be nice.”

Rutherford said the key to getting dads to volunteer might be showing them there are a lot of different jobs they could do — not everything is craft oriented.

“There’s a lot of flexibility,” she said. “And sometimes it’s just nice to have another person helping out.”

“It’s assuring them that there are lots of different ways to help out,” Schweitzer said. “And that they’re very welcome.”

Although the movie night theme leaned toward being a guy night, Schweitzer said she had a request from one of the school’s female students for a Disney’s “Frozen” sing-along night, which was seconded by two middle school volunteers who had overheard.

“So we’ll have to work on that,” Schweitzer said with a laugh.