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The PHS Parents’ Club held its December meeting at Mulberry’s Home on “Giving Tuesday,” and it was an opportune time to feel thankful about the focus of all of our Parents’ Clubs. As Principal Daniels pointed out, we’re not in the position of other Bay Area districts forced to talk about escalating violence on campus, or an emotionally stifling, pressure-cooker academic atmosphere. Instead, we discussed professional development for the World Language department and the ongoing evolution of the math curriculum.

Afterward, during the social hour, someone mentioned the EBMUD Water-Wasters List of Shame. I immediately flashed to a friend who has been struggling with unsolicited ‘advice’ from neighbors about her new front yard landscaping. Her 5’x5’ patch of natural grass has elicited an eight-page anonymous diatribe on the drought, and snarky comments from neighbors. Meanwhile, she keeps buckets in the showers to flush toilets and waters the offending ‘lawn’ with leftover pasta water. Object lesson: you can never really know where others are devoting their altruistic energies. So best to put a lid on it.

I’m trying to transfer that particular object lesson to the discouraging news I learned at the Parents’ Club meeting that participation in The Giving Campaign stands at just under 50%. But my efforts are not working as well as the good spirits of the season demand. While there are dozens of different ways to support the schools, the annual Giving Campaign is different. It doesn’t matter how much you give to other school-related fundraisers, or what other worthy charities you support. It’s not enough to have the metaphorical buckets in your shower. If you have kids in the Piedmont schools, you really should make a donation to The Giving Campaign.

This year The Giving Campaign has a target of $2 million, which is the sum needed to ‘close the gap’ between the state and parcel tax funds available and the actual cost of the program PUSD delivers. It’s the only opportunity we get to fund ‘staff’ rather than ‘stuff,’ and it’s a very public demonstration of the entire parent body’s support of the administration, faculty, and tireless volunteers. We parents – just 36% of Piedmont’s population – have an obligation to demonstrate to the rest of the community that each and every one of us appreciates that a public education like the one our kids are getting isn’t free.

There’ll be a public shaming of sorts when the list of givers is published here in the Post next week (hurry – donate by Friday to be included!) but it’s way better to give out of gratitude than out of fear. Give because you’re grateful for a world-class public school system that the entire community supports. Give because you support the actions our administrators and faculty have taken to support the wellness and emotional health of our student body. Give to say thank you to the quasi-professional volunteers (you know who they are!) who attend every meeting and ask every question so that you don’t have to. Give because you’re relieved and grateful that the issue of the school calendar has finally been resolved and we won’t have to start the year the first week of August. It doesn’t matter how much you give, and in truth it doesn’t really matter why. Just give. ‘Tis the season.