McClure math teacher James Johnson (from left), Seattle Public Schools Central Region executive director Sarah Pritchett and McClure librarian TuesD Chambers were special guests at the 2013 McClure Mixer. Photo by Theresa Marzio
McClure math teacher James Johnson (from left), Seattle Public Schools Central Region executive director Sarah Pritchett and McClure librarian TuesD Chambers were special guests at the 2013 McClure Mixer. Photo by Theresa Marzio

The annual McClure Mixer is coming up, and this year, the event celebrates the 50-year anniversary of the school.

The mixer is an adults-only fundraiser and auction that raises money to fund school programs throughout the year. It will take place at the Queen Anne Community Center (1901 First Ave. W.) on April 5, from 6 to 10 p.m.

The event will feature a speech from an alumnus who was an eighth-grader when the school opened in 1964. Organizers are also inviting other special guests like alumni and former staff and featuring retro images of “McClure through the years,” said PTSA co-president and event chairperson Chris Karam.

The event will include food and drinks, music, games, socializing, a silent auction and a brief live auction. Current staff and a guest can attend for free, while all other guests will need to purchase tickets for $35 each.

There’s also an option to sponsor the event for $200 per person. Karam said many businesses and families want to support the event but don’t have items to donate, so they chose the higher ticket price as a way to give back. (Tickets are available in advance through Brown Paper Tickets; see link below.)

Shannon Conner feels “pretty fortunate” to spend her first year as principal at McClure during its 50th anniversary. McClure has been through many iterations, Conner said, and this anniversary is a way to celebrate the history, the education, the triumphs and the hiccups along the way.

This year, Conner had 50 more students than were predicted. She attributes the continued growth to the positive environment and culture.

“We have such an amazing, involved, positive, supportive community,” she said. “[This] celebrates that and shows what a great school this has become.”

That anniversary will be a focal point of the mixer. Organizers have even been in contact with the school’s original principal. This year, they’re also inviting Superintendent José Banda and Mayor Ed Murray.

There’s no confirmation if they can come yet, Conner said, but they’re trying to make this event more of a citywide draw. The usual event is just for the current families, with about 200 guests; Karam expects at least 300 people to attend this year.

Covering school expenses

During the live auction there is a funding-need focus, where the auctioneer will ask for donations. This year, the auction will focus on technology and the arts.

Conner hasn’t heard of any of the teachers incorporating the anniversary into their classroom curriculum, but auction goers will have a chance to bid on experiences for the students. This could include field trips to a coffee shop or the movies or having a classroom pizza party.

There are also experiences offered for parents. One idea Conner has heard is a night for parents to play dodgeball in the school’s gym.

Last year, the event raised $40,000, much more than the previous year’s total of about $23,000. Karam attributes that increase to more families getting involved with McClure as it’s a new neighborhood school. This year, Karam hopes to raise $60,000.

“The district is no longer funding a lot,” Karam said. “Schools are forced to [have] fundraisers like these.”

The money raised will fund basic things like library books and curriculum tools. It will also fund math and reading tutors, classroom technology and music programs. Conner and the PTSA’s budget committee work together to divvy up the funds. Last year was the first year the mixer raised enough money to cover the school’s expenses, Karam said.

It’s important to raise this money and fund these programs because “education is No. 1, and we want to create an excellent middle school in our neighborhood,” Karam said.

Last year, the funds covered two laptop carts for the classrooms, among other things. It also funded a school-wide anti-bullying campaign called “Owning Up.”

Technology has been a big focus at McClure, Conner said, so the school uses the funds for professional development for teachers to make sure they’re using the technology in a way that “truly enhances learning.”

McClure has budget gaps that need to be filled to educate the students. The funding from the mixer provides resources and consistent support throughout the year for students at all different learning levels, Conner said.

“I feel very blessed,” Conner said, “to be in a school where we have such a supportive community and PTSA that goes the extra mile to ensure we push extra resources so students [can succeed].”

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