Adopt-a-Grade provides school supplies at Madison

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Adopt-a-Grade provides school supplies at Madison
A classroom at MadisonAs the school year begins to unfold, students at Madison Elementary School are joyous about their shiny new school supplies. Parents are happy too. All required school supplies at Madison are provided by the school, thanks to donations from Madison’s Adopt-a-Grade program.

“One thing I especially appreciate is that Madison is pretty diverse, so having each student receive the same supplies creates an equal playing field for everyone,” said Madison parent Miriam Hathaway. “It is not just a way to reduce the costs of school supplies for families, but it’s also a powerful gesture from the larger community. It’s like a big ‘welcome back to school’ from businesses and organizations. It shows that people care about my kids’ education and success.”

Hathaway has been a Madison parent for five years and currently has a fourth grader and a kindergartner. She, like many parents at Madison, uses the money she would have spent on school supplies to contribute to the school in other ways. “The program makes it easier for our family to contribute money to fundraisers and special events during the school year,” she said. “We also like purchasing supplies for staff as a way to pay it forward.”

Principal Domenico Spatola-Knoll began the Adopt-a-Grade program shortly after arriving at Madison nine years ago. The Madison team reached out to local businesses and non-profit organizations requesting donations of supplies or funding for supplies. It started with kindergarten and expanded each year. These days, the school has secured enough donors to supply the entire school with free back to school supplies. Parents who can afford to are encouraged to donate the money they saved on school supplies to a charitable organization of their choice or to the school.

“Parents have been in tears knowing that they don’t have to buy school supplies,” Spatola-Knoll said. “It’s a struggle at the beginning of the year, especially having multiple kids. It can add up.”

Madison students are also provided with the materials needed for special classroom projects throughout the year. For the Science Expo, students are provided all the materials they need for their chosen project, as well as volunteer staff (pre-COVID) to help them, if needed.

“I don’t want a child choosing a Science Expo project based on their parent’s ability to purchase the materials for that project or their parents’ ability to help,” Spatola-Knoll said. “I just want the Science Expo to be an equitable experience for our kids.”

Spatola-Knoll will never forget the day when, in his office, a mother enrolling her child at Madison burst into tears of joy upon hearing that school supplies were provided. The family was starting over with nothing in Olympia after escaping a domestic violence situation in another state. “She wanted her kids to look smart on the first day of school and to have all the supplies on the list just like every other kid,” Spatola-Knoll said.

Providing school supplies is one way that educators can make success at Madison as easy for families as possible, the principal said. “What you need to worry about here is making sure that your kid is here in the morning and there is someone to get them at the end of the day. From bell to bell, it’s all taken care of.”

Students from schools throughout the Olympia School District can request assistance obtaining school supplies. The Olympia School District Education Foundation makes possible the "Principal's Emergency Fund" at each of our schools. Please contact your school directly if you need assistance accessing school supplies for your child.