On April 27th, families came out in force to represent The New Century School at Camden Yards as the Baltimore Orioles played their third in a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals. The event was organized by TNCS primary mom Tracy Browning as part of The OriolesREACH High Five Fundraising Program. High Five was designed to benefit local schools and other eligible nonprofit organizations; by attending a game at the “Ballpark That Forever Changed Baseball,” TNCS earned $5 for every ticket sold. According to their website, the Orioles have donated more than $1.4 million through this program since 2005. “We have participated in the Orioles high five fundraising program through [Johns] Hopkins,” said Ms. Browning. “They do this yearly to raise funds for transplant patients and families.” In their experience with the program, Ms. Browning and her husband Dr. Niraj Desai appreciated the way it was not only a fun way to fundraise but also generated a true community feeling. “We thought it would be an exciting event for the school and a great way to raise money without having to buy wrapping paper, cookie dough, or something else you don’t really need!” She “pitched” the idea to TNCS Head of School Alicia Danyali, and off they went!
Said Ms. Danyali, “I loved the idea of hosting a community event that brought TNCS together with baseball in a way that benefits the school.” She also had a very particular area in need of benefit in mind: TNCS playground renovations. As chairperson of the official TNCS Playground Committee, Ms. Danyali says, “The playground committee came to be from various conversations among parents, staff, and me regarding accommodating growing bodies and more choice in play/fitness moving forward. I put out an email request to all stakeholders interested in getting involved. Based on responses, a first meeting was set, with 8–10 parents/administration/executive directors in attendance.” That first meeting’s action plan was to research new and improved ground cover. Ms. Danyali says they are looking for something “more sustainable and long-lasting for the wear and tear of the environment and student usage. The pebbles and mulch take a beating with the weather and constant movement. I am requesting samples from many surface providers to weigh options, plus there is interest in a track for running to be installed.” Additionally, an elementary Spring Break assignment was to Create Your Dream Playground, which students executed with enthusiasm! Although an ice cream shop probably will not ultimately occupy the center of the new playground, the kids’ natural creativity, unhampered innovation, and end-user insight resulted in some truly inspired suggestions for the upcoming overhaul. With $675 raised from the day out at Oriole Park (that’s 135 tickets sold!), Step 1 is underway. Ms. Danyali encourages families to get involved with this fun way to help out the school: “The next playground committee meeting is scheduled for May 12 at 8:00 am, for anyone interested in joining the group!”
“We are working on next year’s game and want this to be a yearly community event,” says Ms. Browning. “I really hope everyone had a great time!” It’s probably safe to say that the event scored a grand slam (even if the Orioles fared less successfully)!