The McKenna PTA
By Ashley Hunt (2004)
The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) was a very important part of the social fabric of McKenna. During the 1940’s and 1950’s amazingly thorough scrap books were kept describing the activities connected to the McKenna PTA. Scrapbooks were kept prior to this, but were lost in a school fire (as noted in the 1947 scrapbook). The PTA was involved in nearly every event that took place within the community. The PTA involved not only, parents and teachers, but also included prominent community members. The PTA membership was directed by an executive counsel. This counsel consisted of a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and there was actually a position for the person who made the scrapbooks. These people were well respected within the community and served as an organizing counsel for activities with in the community. Upon reviewing these scrapbooks the importance of the PTA is more than evident.
The PTA met once a month for their general meetings. The average attendance was about forty people. In comparison to the actual total population of the community this was a significant amount. Each person paid fifty cents in dues (The books were unclear whether this was monthly or yearly.), these dues were to help raise money to fund meetings and events. For an extra dollar a month a person could receive the monthly PTA magazine. The PTA sent out reminders to members in the mail as well as placed an ad in the Nisqually Valley News in order to remind community members about the monthly meetings. At meetings members discussed up coming events such as fairs, watched plays and slide shows, or listened to speakers. At the majority of the meetings there would be a guest speaker who might talk about social issues, or provide guidelines for running schools and/or homes. Some examples of these topics are “School Organization,” “Why Some Children Don’t Learn to Read”, and “School Responsibilities of Parents and Teachers.” Some guest speakers talked about current world events, or give presentations about foreign places. In one newspaper ad announced that there would be a speaker on “Conditions in Finland.” Beyond that the PTA would have “round table discussions” on topics regarding the school and community, during these discussions they would bring in a neutral moderator to ensure fairness during the discussions. The topics would regularly focus on the topic of the speaker from that meeting. Other topics that required decision making would also be made during these discussions. It is obvious that from the topics within the meetings that the meeting were intended more for entertainment (Picture 1, Picture 2) than for actual education or awareness. Beyond the meetings other events that were hosted by the PTA including Founders Day, Christmas Programs, Halloween Events, and the School Fair (for beginning of the school year), a business meeting and “social time” would also follow every meeting. A meal (Picture 2) for those in attendance was also much anticipated part of the evening. It seems that PTA planned many of the social events within the community.
The community during this time also recognized, or rather felt, that the PTA was an important part of the McKenna School and the community. An example of this would be that they had founders day for the founders of the PTA itself. They would have a carnival activity and plays that incorporated the founders of the PTA. Another action that the community would take that showed the importance of the PTA was that they would write poems about the officers and the teachers. (These poems were also saved in the scrapbook). Also, the existence of the scrapbooks themselves shows that the activities hosted by the PTA were of great importance to the community members.