Improving students and teachers’ opportunities at Franklin Middle and Hillcrest High School has become a quest for Amanda French and the Franklin and Hillcrest PTAs.

French chairs the schools’ joint organization, the Friends of Franklin Middle and Hillcrest High School, and the group’s annual fundraiser has provided significant school renovations in the past. The Friends hope to continue the tradition in February by enlisting our neighborhood’s help.

The Feb. 22 fundraiser, themed “Red, White and Boots,” will include silent and live auctions and a dinner hosted by Eddie Deen’s Ranch at Downtown Dallas. Friends of Franklin and Hillcrest are requesting donations from individuals and businesses in the community to supplement auction items.

“We are looking for $10, $20 or $100 donations to underwrite fundraiser costs,” French says, “or local business products and gift certificates to be auctioned off.”

French’s own children recently switched from private school to Hillcrest. Because of her involvement, French feels strongly about developing Hillcrest’s resources.

“By supporting these schools, we’re doing a little something for the community and touching them in a small way,” French says. “That’s how a lot of our parents feel.”

Previous fundraisers purchased air conditioning equipment for both Hillcrest’s and Franklin’s gymnasiums. This year, the group has a more ambitious wish list.

Pending school board approval, the group hopes to reroute school traffic by building a circular front driveway in order to provide more adequate visitor and student parking.

“It should add 16 visitor parking spaces,” says French. “It’s very much a necessity and it’s become a safety issue as well. There’s not a pull-in now where you can safely stop your car and pick up your child.”

Additionally, they’d like to improve the school’s courtyards and bring in picnic tables to alleviate overcrowded lunch facilities.

“We have lunchroom capacity for about 250-300 kids. And current enrollment is over 1,800,” French says. “With three lunch periods, the simple math is almost half these kids have nowhere to eat lunch.”

Another aim of this year’s fundraiser is to provide work space to 32 Hillcrest teachers who currently have no permanent classroom.

“We want to have the teacher workrooms and the lounge upgraded so they have a place to go that is at least workable and pleasant,” she says.

Last year, more than 300 people attended the fundraiser.

“We all benefit when everyone is well-educated, and keeping schools strong is important to our property values,” French says, adding: “Every year it gets a little bit better. If we can get 10 more people involved in doing this, that would be great.”

For information or to arrange donations, call French at 214-739-4850.

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