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Map the Meal Gap report breaks down hunger

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The Association of Arizona Food Banks recently released a Feeding America report revealing food insecurity statistics for Arizona broken down by county and district, called Map the Meal Gap.Food insecurity,...

Annual fund-raising event celebrates the turn of the season
By Chelsea DeWeese
Larson Newspapers
________________


Former West Sedona School Principal Greg Kirkham pulled himself, dripping, back onto the platform.

“You can’t do it twice in one turn,” he hollered.

Seventh-grader Marilyn Cruz responded with a laugh, ball in hand.

Kirkham, who retired at the end of last school year, was the hapless educator currently stationed inside the dunk tank at West Sedona School, set up on campus for this year’s Fall Festival.

An annual event at West Sedona School, Fall Festival is a school fund-raiser and celebration of all things autumn.

Friday, Oct. 13, the day on which this year’s Fall Festival took place, West Sedona School was transformed into a carnival.

Games, bouncing rooms and a 25-foot-tall climbing wall  spanned the walking area between classrooms.

Near the front office, a cotton candy machine was cranking out the sweet stuff full force.

And inside the West Sedona School library, a fund-raising book sale and silent auction were taking place.

Parent Barbi Webster, with the West Sedona School Parent Teacher Student Association, helped organize the silent auction and said proceeds would be used for educational programs and materials at the school.

Heaping gift baskets donated by businesses such as Art of Wine,  Mexidona and Life is Good garnered written bids, along with artwork such as a handmade alphabet quilt by Maggie Castillo.

Webster said nearly $14,000 worth of goods had been donated.

“People are really rising to the occasion,” she said. “It’s great to see.”

Outside, youngsters knew where the real fun was to found and lined up eagerly for the bouncing rooms — enormous, fully-inflated enclosures that lend themselves to wild play.

Parent Paul Parella watched as his son, Charlie Parella, 6, and niece, Liza Westervelt, also 6, climbed in.

“It’s good,” he said. “The kids have a lot of fun.”

Sedona Red Rock High School junior Chelsea Wise was responsible for collecting tickets for one of the bouncing rooms, one of a number of teacher Marc Sterling’s business class students who volunteered for the event.

“It’s fun,” Wise said. “I love doing it.”

She added, “It was a good turnout this year, too.”

West Sedona School students in the upper grade levels also volunteered for Fall Festival.

One of those students was seventh-grader Marco Pedroza, who supervised as a young boy gave the “Wheel of Numbers” a spin.

“Five, four, three. We’ll give you a piece of candy for trying,” Pedroza said.

The young boy walked away with a grin.

Nearby, a score of excited students gathered excitedly at the base of the free-standing climbing wall — awaiting their chance to strap into a safety harness and make the ascent.

Eight-year-old Destini McCabe braved the manmade hand- and footholds Friday and was practically glowing after making her way up the vertical incline.

“It was fun,” she said upon returning to ground level. Although, she admitted, “It was pretty scary.”

Her mother nodded in agreement.


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