For more than 10 years, Sam Houston Elementary School students have gathered annually for a school-wide fundraiser and walk-a-thon called the Smokie Strut, the single major PTO fundraiser for the year.
In recent years, the PTO has earned on average $30,000 from this single event, funding its activities for the whole year.
Starting at 8:30 a.m. on May 4, pre-k through 4th-grade students walked, ran and even danced around a track for 30 minutes, often joined by family members and other community members. Sam Houston student Kiersten Vandervelde, for example, was joined not only by her father, Chase, but also by his biology class from Maryville High School.
By lunch time, all the grades have taken a turn around the route, and everyone was worn out and ready to relax in class.
Over the summer, Sam Houston Elementary will be undergoing renovations. This year’s fundraising money will go to purchase new carpet for the classrooms as well as new basketball goals. In the past, the PTO fundraiser has supplied printers and other classroom materials, playground equipment and a new awning that the school budget could not cover.
Sparky the Fire Dog from the Maryville Fire Department was on hand to encourage the students and was joined by the WIVK frog and the Chick-Fil-A mascot. The teachers wore feather boas and waving pom-poms to cheer the young athletes across the finish line.