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Mountaineer Montessori School staging ‘Sunday Funday’ this weekend at UC

Charleston's Mountaineer Montessori School will host a free afternoon of family-oriented entertainment and cultural enlightenment on Sunday, Sept. 29, on the University of Charleston lawn.

"Sunday Funday" will take place from noon until 5 p.m. It will include a variety of interactive educational exhibits from the Clay Center, fire safety demonstrations and instruction from the Charleston Fire Department, children's fingerprinting by the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department and a number of civic groups.

Young children will be able to enjoy the exhilaration of a variety of free carnival games, pirate and princess makeovers, a treasure dig, face painting, free sno-cones and other activities.

For $10, a wristband can be purchased, permitting children bounce all day in the inflatable zone display, featuring six inflatables, on the lawn.      

Ridge View BBQ, Mission Savvy to Go and Ellen's Ice Cream will be on site, preparing and serving food and refreshments for purchase.

Prior to the event, Mountaineer Montessori School's advanced students have been designing and fashioning one-of-a-kind collection jars to accept financial donations for Manna Meal during "Sunday Funday," as well. 

"The children have taken on Manna Meal as one of their service projects," explained Dana Gilliland, head of Mountaineer Montessori School, last week. "Every week, they go there and help serve meals. They've done that for years, but they wanted to do more; they wanted to collect money to donate to Manna Meal.

"They came up with it all on their own. They designed a big jug to collect money. They went around and told the other classes at school about it, even the ones with the students who are 3 and 4 years old.

"They explained what Manna Meal is and how they wanted to help them.

"We will be doing more for Manna Meal," Gilliland said, "but the important thing is that this is coming from the children. At the 'Sunday Funday,' they're going to ask people to drop their spare change in the jugs. It's very simple, but very grassroots, and the children own it."

The school staff and students intend to launch a major food drive effort later this fall, Gilliland said.

"Sunday Funday" will include free, live entertainment from performers such as including Mountaineer Montessori School string teacher Bernard DiGregorio, who is the principal violist for the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra; local sleight-of-hand magician John Slicer and dancers from the Kanawha City-based River City Youth Ballet.

More than 20 art and craft vendors from throughout West Virginia will set up tents to showcase their items on the UC lawn Sunday afternoon. Scheduled vendors include Charles Jupiter Hamilton, Creative Fine Arts Studio, Providence Handmade and Take a Peek Boutique.

Lee Roush, of Charleston, whose daughter is in the MMS primary program, said she and a few other MMS mothers conceived the notion of "Sunday Funday" during casual conversations they had in the spring.

"We had all talked about 'when you were a kid, do you remember your school carnival?'" Roush recounted. "Back in May, the five of us got together and made what we called the wish list of what we wanted [the "Sunday Funday"] to be. We wrote down four or five places to have it. The back yard of UC was our number one choice and we got it.

"Since then," said Roush, "it's turned into something bigger than I imagined. We had no idea we'd get a magician and the Youth Ballet and six inflatables and vendors from around the state.

"It's grown to a huge thing and we're very, very excited. We're hoping it's the first of many," she said.

For more information about "Sunday Funday," contact Mountaineer Montessori School at 304-342-7870.

Established in 1976, Mountaineer Montessori School is an independent school offering its academic program in an authentic Montessori environment to nearly 100 children ages 3 to 12. Along with a full scholastic and arts curriculum, the school provides a Montessori-based after-school program, on-site computer lab, reading and learning specialists, Spanish and physical education at the nearby University of Charleston pool and gymnasium.

Tuition assistance is available to families based upon financial need.


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