The sun was shining and the weather felt more like summer on Saturday as music, cheers and laughter filled the air at Ponte Vedra’s newest school, the Valley Ridge Academy. The new K through 8 school was the site of the Valley Ridge Academy PTO’s second annual Fall Family Festival on Oct. 24.
“This is the second year and generally the idea was community building. It’s a brand new school but a brand new community as well,” said school principal Wayne King. “More than 50 percent of the people who enroll begin outside the state of Florida – so the vision last year was to bring people together, bring their kids, and have fun while they get to know each other.”
A reported 1,424 people attended the free event, which was run by 89 volunteers. Guests enjoyed a video game truck, obstacle course, art projects, book fair, bounce houses, pumpkin bowling, raffles and human-sized “hamster ball” races. There were also food trucks representing home-grown eateries like M Shack, Bold City Pops and Trasca & Co. Lazzara Orthodontics, which provides sponsorship to a number of St. Johns County Schools, was the presenting sponsor for the event.
“It’s a great honor to be partnered and affiliated with schools as wonderful as the ones in St. Johns County,” said Dr. Jon Lazarra.
“Our parents are here, our students are here – it’s great!” said co-chair of the event, Tory Eulenfeld. Eulenfeld organized the event in just six weeks with her co-chair Connie Herrell and the help of other volunteers from the Valley Ridge PTO.
In addition to fun and community-building, the event helped raise funds for the school’s playground and for local charity the Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation. Those attending were asked to bring a box of stuffing to be donated to the Foundation. The donations will then be included in packages of food sent home with county students in need during the First Coast Blessings in a Backpack annual event.
Eulenfeld said the PTO will split the money generated Saturday through donations, giving half back to Valley Ridge Academy and half to the Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation.
The event is in its second year, and has grown proportionately with the school.
“There was a lot of effort that went in last year but it was really just a school event. This year, it’s spread out more to the community and we were able to welcome in more business partners,” said Principal Wayne. “We’re building not only a school but a community together – I think that’s really important.”
For more information about the Valley Ridge Academy PTO, visit www.valleyridgeacademypto.com.