REEDSPORT — Numbers and a passion for students.

That's what the Highland Parent Organization needs now.

The HPO is starting really with almost a brand new group of parents.

Key leaders this year are president Nichole Rusher, vice-president Sara Manicke, treasurer Casey Gibbons, and secretary Cynthia Chilcote. Highland first-grade teacher Dan Smith belongs to the group too.

Expectations as for time are not too high.

"We want one hour a year of each parent," Gibbons said.

Rusher emphasized that "one hour can make a difference. That's our motto."

Manicke and the others are shooting for 12-to-20 active volunteers who give of themselves.

The HPO traditionally assists the elementary in many ways, including fluoride treatments for children, helping at movie nights, counting box tops for supplies, fun outdoor events and other projects. They also handle the back to school barbeque or at least have in the past.

"Last year we funded a lot of it. This year we haven't really been asked so they (school employees) must have found the funds," Rusher noted.

Parents and other relatives headed to Highland Aug. 29 for the back to school barbeque, which is free. Also featured is face painting and cotton candy. The intent's pretty simple really and that is for children and parents to get acquainted with educators.

"Our movie nights are always the second Thursday of every month unless the school already has an event," the HPO president said.

HPO has a Facebook page.

Manicke joked a bit about the page, which she'll manage this year, saying "we will shove it down their throats. They will like it."

Those interested in finding out more about the HPO including how to join can email Rusher at highlandparentorganization@gmail.com or call her at 415-847-3791. However to volunteer, people must take and pass a criminal background checks, which are available through the Reedsport School District.

There are no costs to join HPO.

The HPO sells concessions for the movie nights but otherwise membership is free.

The public HPO meeting takes place at the Highland library the third Wednesday of every other month from September through June at 6 p.m., Rusher said. Daycare is available.

Then the HPO executive board meets every month the fourth Wednesday at 6 p.m. at a member's house on a rotating basis.

"People are more than welcome to come," Rusher said of executive board meetings. "We will be emailing out the board minutes.

"We want it to be informal," Manicke said of the entire organization.

Manicke wants to focus on fundraising through the executive board and "what we can actually pull off."

Looking over at Rusher, Manicke praised Rusher.

"She lays awake at night," the parent said. "She's the real deal. It's really awesome what she wants to do for the kids."

The HPO has reserved Highland Pool for Oct. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. This will be a free swim party.

"We're rebuilding this HPO," Gibbons emphasized. "We're open. We're not stuck on our way."

"We want to be very transparent," Rusher said.

The Umpqua Post Editor Shelby Case can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 296 or shelby.case@theworldlink.com.

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