Arlington's Kent Prairie Elementary celebrates carnival | SLIDESHOW

ARLINGTON — Kent Prairie Elementary celebrated its champions with the Olympics-themed return of its PTA’s 12th annual fundraising carnival on Friday, Feb. 10.

Just as the hallways of the school bore the flags of many nations, and visiting kids were given an opportunity to be photographed with gold-colored medals and an American flag, so too was the usual selection of kids’ favorite games and activities presented with a more Olympics-flavored flair.

Kim Hahn served as chair of this year’s Kent Prairie PTA carnival and estimated that as many as 1,500 children attended that evening, with families in tow, to be served by a volunteer crew of about 100 school staff members, parents and other community members.

“We’ve had help from the high school Honor Society and JROTC,” said Mary Levesque, secretary for the event. “A lot of middle school students have also pitched in.”

Dionne King, treasurer for the event, didn’t have final totals available by the end of evening, but she noted that the PTA usually raises thousands of dollars through the carnival, which in turn go toward sponsoring field trips, student enrichment grants, assemblies, library accelerated reading programs, new computers, playground equipment and more.

“For the past few years, we’ve had several sponsors for the event allowing all proceeds to be given back to the school,” Hahn said of the carnival, which was free to all Kent Prairie students, but charged adult attendees $5 each.

“Our local businesses are very generous,” said King, who noted that the silent auction, the cake walk and the food lines for pizza, popcorn, cotton candy and soda are also money-generating crowd draws year after year.

Walt Tungat has been bringing his family to the carnival since his oldest child was a Kent Prairie student. The oldest is now 18, but Walt’s 9-year-old son Hunter and 8-year-old daughter Tanaya are still enrolled at the school, so he’s continued to turn out for the carnival each year.

“I have friends in Marysville who say their schools don’t have anything like this,” Walt Tungat said. “I always get to meet new people here, and bid on cool stuff like sporting trips to see the Silvertips or the Seahawks.”

Like their dad, Hunter and Tanaya also enjoy the opportunity afforded by the carnival to meet new people their own age, although they also expressed enthusiasm for the indoor bouncy house in the school gym. Tanner Tungat is 14 years old and attending Arlington High School, but he still returned to his old alma mater, claiming he didn’t want his dad to feel alone.

“It’s weird seeing all my old teachers here,” Tanner Tungat said. “You can see everybody getting older. I remember them looking way younger.”

For 7-year-old Lily Jeffrey, this year marked her second Kent Prairie carnival, and she insisted that dad David and mom Dinnette come check it out, if only because she spent two days in class helping decorate the school.

“This is a vibrant school,” David Jeffrey said. “I remember being in the last class to graduate from my grade school before they shut it down. They literally closed the doors behind me. Its energy and participation levels were nothing like this.”

“It’s fun for the whole family on a cold and rainy night,” Levesque laughed.


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