With the sizeable rift between the Fairfax County Public Schools adopted budget for Fiscal Year 2017 and the advertised transfer from the Board of Supervisors still looming, parents and community supporters of Hollin Meadows Elementary hope to protect their school’s highly valued STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and outdoor garden programs.
On April 30, the Hollin Meadows Partnership will host the sixth annual Neighborhood Gala fundraiser at a private residence close to the school in the Mount Vernon area of Alexandria. The tented event raises money through admission tickets, raffles, a silent auction of more than 150 items and outright donations.
Last year, Neighborhood Gala donations reached around $55,000.
At Hollin Meadows, they have a special full-time STEM teacher as well as a 10,000 square-foot outdoor garden.
“The garden is really amazing,” said gala committee member Jennifer Lipner, who has a second grader and incoming kindergartner at Hollin Meadows. “We have a part-time garden coordinator who helps plant, harvest, measure and weigh. It’s a great learning opportunity and gets the kids outside.”
Lipner said the garden harvest has been so bountiful in the past that the school has donated dozens of pounds of sweet potatoes and provided lettuce for its annual Thanksgiving feast.
With about 50 percent of Hollin Mills, a Title 1 school, eligible for free and reduced meals, Lipner said the programs are also critical for teaching about healthy eating habits.
“It makes a big impact on the community,” she said.
The Sixth Hollin Meadows Neighborhood Gala to benefit the STEM and outdoor garden programs is scheduled for April 30 from 7-11 p.m. For more information or to bid on a silent auction item, visit www.biddingowl.com/hmpgala. Hollin Meadows Elementary School is located at 2310 Nordok Place in Alexandria.