The PTSO’s Dream: Creating Outdoor Learning Spaces

On Oct. 6 at the second PTSO meeting of the school year, the PTSO discussed updates on fundraising, future goals, ongoing programs, and plans to make students their top priority.


Lilly Khalkho

When joining the PTSO, new members are given PTSO magnets and entered into a raffle that awards prizes including free SAT classes. These magnets were available for pick up at the homecoming tailgate and were offered in the cafeteria from Oct. 11 to Oct 15.

This month’s PTSO meeting was packed with retrospectives on past programs and the introduction of new ones, from fundraising for school improvement to announcements about the establishment of new clubs.

In an update of fundraising, the PTSO was able to pass their $11,000 fundraising goal. According to the treasurer’s report presented by PTSO treasurer Nikki Helfen, new funds were provided by The Home Depot and PTSO membership dues, which amount to $7,090.32. Also specified in the treasurer’s report were the expenses of the PTSO, which included funds towards a stagecraft class for building lawn games for the homecoming tailgate and administrative expenses; all expenses totaled to $1,322.50. The ending balance for the month of September was $19,706.20. There were no new funding requests made at this meeting.

MSAAC, the minority student achievement advisory committee, is an organization that partners with Loudoun County to focus on minority students and their needs. LaShawna Smith, the Rock Ridge MSAAC representative, presented this year’s MSAAC theme: family focus. This theme will promote conversations to achieve social recovery, overcome daily racism, COVID trauma, isolation, and more. Smith also expressed the importance of investigating the representation of African American and Hispanic students in honors classes as well as their representation in the student body and faculty at Rock Ridge. According to Smith, the PTSO will also be looking into obtaining a Student Equity Ambassador “to aid the equity initiative at Rock Ridge.”.

Activities and Engagement Coordinator Annamika Hacikyan shared that there was an increase in clubs following the club expo, which was held on Sept. 30.  “[The club expo] ignited a spark in students in starting new clubs,” Hacikyan said. Before Sept. 30, Rock Ridge offered 57 clubs, but now offers 82 clubs.

The PTSO has several upcoming goals for this year. The next big project is to organize a Thanksgiving luncheon for the Rock Ridge community. This event will require recruiting volunteers to support the clubs, students, and faculty.

The long term goal of the PTSO this year is to revamp the school’s courtyards with the student’s help, in order to use them for outdoor classes and club meetings. PTSO President Tiffany Ahmed says that Principal John Duellman approached her with the idea of transforming the courtyard. 

“At the end of last school year [the PTSO board] had a meeting with Principal Duellman and his administrative team [to discuss] what the needs of the school were,” Ahmed said. “The biggest takeaway we were hearing was trying to build safe spaces for students [with the focus on the students’ return to in-person learning].”

The PTSO Coffee, Chat, & Chai with parents and staff from the Unified Mental Health team, which was going to cover how to deal with the stress of school, has been postponed. The PTSO is planning a new date for this event. 

The next PTSO meeting will take place through Google Meet from 7-8 p.m. on Nov. 10. More information and updates about the PTSO can be found through ConnectEd emails and the PTSO website, and donations can be made here.