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Yeehaw! Hoedown Kicks in Money for Syringa Kids’ Education
Monday, May 1, 2017


They sashayed across the floor of the Barrie Family Barn with the power of a hundred oxen stomping on the plowing fields.

And they grinned all the while, knowing that with every dance step they were tilling the soil for the future of nearly 150 youngsters.

A few hundred men and women donned chaps, cowboy hats, boots and bandanas Saturday night to take part in Syringa Mountain School’s third annual hoedown in the refurbished barn of a former Bellevue Bible camp.

The hoedown is the school’s largest fundraiser, said School Director Christine Fonner, with last year’s hoedown raising more than $100,000. The public charter Waldorf-inspired school gets state and federal money but also relies on donations to cover its 137 students in kindergarten through sixth grade

“We’re here for our kids,” School Board President Randy Flood told the crowd. “We’d like you to think about the special kids this community is made of.”

Several Syringa students performed “Cripple Creek” on fiddle and bass as the guests arrived.

Inside the barn were a variety of raffle items, ranging from a basket containing Sylvie’s elderberry elixirs to horse food and a pass for two to Trinity Hot Springs in Paradise, Idaho. There were classes people could enroll in ranging from a Canning Produce/Cocktail Party to one in which Austrian-born Fred Pendl, former baker at The Konditorei, would teach participants how to make Linzer cookies and other Austrian pastries.

Silent auction items included a moonlight float for four on the Payette River, a Duck Dynasty package for duck hunters on a private island on the Snake River, a family climbing adventure at City of Rocks and an Oregon Coast getaway.

Melissa Webb urged party goers to spin the Wheel of Fortune, while others hawked seed packages that contained prizes valued at up to $72. A “You’re Gonna Buy It, Anyway” board offered partygoers the chance to buy services like oil changes at The Car Doctor with the money going to Syringa.

In amidst the raffle items were examples of students’ work, including a painted recounting of the Iroquois creation story.

A third-grader’s book, which resembled a three-inch thick encyclopedia, displayed what the student had learned through the year, including “Three Ways to Preserve Apples” and how to write Hebrew to recount Genesis’s account of Creation.

“My son Thor had to write a poem and he wrote it from the point of view of a panda. There’s a lot of creativity in this school,” said Amy Roberts.

Many of the parents talked about how their children were thriving at the tuition-free school, which offer a variety of hands-on experiences, such as a farm and garden program, knitting and needle point classes and opportunities to speak Spanish, learn violin and act out the stories they learn in class.

Many surmised their children would not do as well in conventional schools.

Michelle Sandoz, who helped organize the hoedown, has a first-grader named Ellie whose painting of a pumpkin hung in the barn and a fifth-grader named Ryan, who loves to run and play bass.

“I love Syringa’s approach to education—meeting each child where he or she’s at,” she said. “And you’d be amazed how many people have moved to the valley so they’re children can be in our school.”

The five-hour party included line dancing led by Dale and Peggy Bates and additional dance music provided by The Kim Stocking Band.

Al McCord of the Wood River Sustainability Center kept the partygoers plied with stuffed mushrooms, roast asparagus, baby back ribs and steak bites dipped in Asian marinade, while Ginger Ferries served up Lemon Drop cocktails made with vodka and lemon juice.

“We’re gonna kick up our heels,” said Teri Niedrich.

When all was said and done the school had pulled in nearly $90,000, said Aris Flood. It will go to help pay salaries, cover the cost of special programs, the school farm and classrooms.


Synringa Mountain School just purchased a 23-passenger bus so it can offer bus transportation to students during the upcoming school year. Students have been using Mountain Rides transportation.

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