Remember that Big Lots contest I wrote about back in June? The one that Fairfax entered in the hopes of winning big (or even little) money for a new piece of adaptive playground equipment that all our students could use together, regardless of physical ability? Well, it was the longest and most tedious contest ever, lasting an excruciating five weeks. I got so damn good at typing captchas from every device in our home that I even dreamed about them.

The contest did have an awful lot of potential prizes, ranging from the grand prize of $20,000 to thirty smaller $2,000 prizes. We were cautiously optimistic about at least winning something, although we knew we had several factors working against us. For one thing, we were competing against middle and high schools where every student likely owns their own device and could have voted independently of their parents. We also were competing against some schools that remained in session for the first week or two (or even three) of the contest, making it much easier for staff to remind students and families to continue voting, while ours were in full vacation mode.  And lastly, we do exist in a community that tends to be rather polarized around school issues. Many of our residents opt for private and parochial school and, even for those public school families, we can sometimes feel divided among the seven elementary schools in our district. This is not some old-fashioned town where if you post a reminder on the town square marque to vote for your local school, every single resident is going to rush home to their device and happily begin typing.

But we were indeed optimistic, if for no other reason than that we have the best damn PTA ever. And our optimism was well warranted because we won. As in, WE WON THE WHOLE DANG THING. We had the absolute top number of votes of any of the 186 schools across the country that entered and we won a whooping $20,000! I was moved to tears when I got the call from our PTA president two weeks ago. This brings us about halfway toward our goal and will hopefully allow us to capitalize on some momentum and raise the rest of the money to install the piece by spring. Big Lots will make their public announcement this Monday and will hold a celebratory ceremony where they hand over one of those enormous checks to which everyone is invited, especially Fairfax students and their families. The event, complete with food, music, giveaways and lots of media attention, will be held on Wednesday, August 14 at 9:30 am at the Big Lots at 24295 Chagrin Blvd in Beachwood.

Thank you so much to everyone and anyone who voted. Even if you only remembered to log on and vote after being harassed on Facebook or even if those captchas drove you crazy, it was all worth it in the end. Thank you, thank you, thank you.