GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

April 23, 2013

Cole guitar tops PTO auction list

By Gail McCarthy
Staff Writer

---- — An autographed guitar donated by Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Paula Cole is just one of the more than 300 items that will be available at the Rockport PTO auction, which takes place on Saturday at the Shalin Liu Performance Center.

And for the first time, the auction also has an online component through Bidding For Good, as well as a live auction with state. Sen. Bruce Tarr as auctioneer and a silent auction at the event itself.

George Syrigos, auction project manager and father of four, said he is overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from the countless donors, which include local business, artists, teachers and parents, in addition to private sponsors and even donors from as far away as Disney World.

The black tie reception and silent auction take place on the third floor reception hall, and the live auction takes place in the concert hall. The reception and silent auction start at 6:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres, drinks, live music and silent auction; the live auction from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. with state Sen. Bruce Tarr, followed by coffee and desserts upstairs with piano music.

“This is such a wonderful example of how the community comes together to support the schools, from family, friends and neighbors to those who support the work of the schools,” he said. “It’s truly a community in Rockport because it is a small school system. People are invested in this school because it is a great school system but also because some have gone there for generations, and the teachers stay there because the community supports and appreciates their work.”

The variety of items being auctioned includes unique experiences — like having a meal cooked by Cape Ann’s Christian Collins, of the reality TV cooking show “MasterChef,” in which he reached third place in the show hosted and judged by UK celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

There is also the chance to go sea kayaking and snorkeling with physical education teacher Erin Caniff or have a pizza party with elementary school principal Shawn Maguire. There are also Red Sox-Yankees tickets, and a chance to have a party for 50 hosted by Top Dog or a pool party at Rockport Inn and Suites.

Syrigos also noted that there are items like for summer camps, guitar lessons, a lighthouse tour, a schooner sail, and Rockport Capt. Bill Lee has offered up a harbor cruise to look for seals and bird life in the area of Straitsmouth Island and Dry Salvages and much more.

“There has been an outpouring of support from teachers and staff,” said Syrigos, who set up a last-minute meeting between PTO and school staff and teachers at which more than half the teachers graciously offered items or services on the spot.”

“It just shows what an invested community we have, where everyone is happy to pitch in and help,” he said.

Syrigos said he wants people to know that the PTO is far more than bake sales. Each year, the PTO spends approximately $30,000 on programs, services, enrichment programs, family events, book fairs, holiday fairs, and in special cases capital costs.

Just this past year, the PTO chipped in with $1,000 for the effort of the Friends of Rockport Athletics to refinish the gymnasium floor, which is used by students in all grades. A few years back, it paid $15,000 for sound proofing for the middle/high school cafeteria. It helps fund transportation costs for programs from grammar school to high school, as well as provide ongoing support for the high school drama club and business and marketing DECA club.

Lana Razdan, enrichment coordinator, said the PTO looks to fill in the gaps for programs that the municipal budget does not provide for.

“What we look to accomplish is to give students experiences they might not have in various areas of cultural development. We are careful to provide programs that enhance the core curriculum for each grade level established by state Department of Education so it allows the teachers to go beyond the resources provided them by the municipal budget,” she said. “It’s like the icing on the cake.”

Examples of those programs range from Massachusetts Audubon animal specialists who teach first graders about animal habitats and behaviors to a science program which teaches children about rocks and minerals. In support of literacy and English language skills, the PTO sponsors a variety of authors who talk to the children about the writing and editing process and about how to develop their creative thinking and express themselves through language and illustration, said Razdan.

Razdan highlighted one long-term program focused on music in which David Coffin, an expert in early musical instruments, provides a program focusing on the recorder.

When the auction gala ends, there will still be time to view the roughly 200 online only items, which are open for bidding until April 29 on the Rockport PTO auction website.

For Cape Ann residents, there can be arrangements made for pick up or delivery of online items instead of shipping. New items were added as of yesterday for those who have already been at the site, there is more, said Syrigos.

The Rockport PTO Auction on Bidding for Good is at: http://www.biddingforgood.com/rockportpto.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.