For the first time in years, the Coral Bay Yacht Club (CBYC) is not hosting the annual flotilla to support Guy Benjamin School (GBS) this Spring.
While the event has become one of the most anticipated of the season for students, parents and community members alike,
CBYC officials couldn’t find anyone to take the lead organizing the event, according to the yacht club’s commodore, Julie Fortunato.
“Unfortunately, it looks like the flotilla is a no-go for this year due to time constraints on key committee members,” said Fortunato. “Maybe we can get an earlier start and get it going again for next year.”
$15,000 Raised Last Year
Last year’s flotilla, which drew hundreds of people to Miss Vie’s Campground on the East End and even expanded to include a 13-boat fleet regatta, raised more than $15,000 for the small Coral Bay public elementary school.
Although GBS officials were disappointed, they still have funds to spend from last year’s event, according to acting principal Dionne Wells.
“Apparently the yacht club didn’t have the personnel or the members were not available to put the flotilla together this year,” said Wells. “We still have money to spend from last year.”
Funds raised at last year’s flotilla were originally earmarked for GBS playground renovations.
Federal money, however, was eventually obtained to cover the cost of renovations, leaving the flotilla funds for future projects.
“The money raised at last year’s event will go toward improving the basketball court and purchasing resources and materials for the teachers here at the school,” said Wells.
The GBS principal joined Fortunato in looking ahead to next year.
“Hopefully next year we’ll be in the swing of things,” said Wells.
Despite the lack of a flotilla this year, GBS officials have been enjoying improvements to the school’s grounds and classrooms, Wells explained.
“We got the plastic on the windows in Miss Harley’s room and I bought a new air conditioning unit for Miss Parson’s room, so all the classrooms are nice and comfortable now,” said Wells.
Students recently completed the mandatory standardized Iowa tests, and Wells is looking forward to excellent results, the principal added.
“All of our students were in attendance and I anticipate that we’ll have great results,” Wells said.
Despite being in her position as head of GBS since the start of the school year, Wells is waiting to receive news in writing from Department of Education officials to accept the job permanently.
Waiting for Official Word
“I’ve heard people say that I am going to stay, but I need it in writing” said Wells. “I’m hoping to hear something soon — it’s such a great school. I have so many things I would like to see done, so I hope that I have the opportunity to stay here.”
One of the first things on Wells’ agenda next year will be to reinvigorate the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, the principal explained.
“The PTO has been going nowhere this year,” Wells said. “If I remain here, I intend to fix that. A school can’t be a successful school without good parental backing.”
“We don’t lack parental involvement here, but we need better organization,” she added.
In the meantime, the GBS acting principal will continue with the same commitment she has applied to the school all year.
“I am still going to operate as if I am going to be here next year,” Wells said.