It’s that time of year again – kids have begun another year of school, and parents are being asked to sign up for many activities.

Parents and guardians have long been recognized as significant players in the overall educational experience of a child. Along with everything else you sign up to do, I hope you will join a PTA.

Here’s an overview of the general make-up, personal benefits and some of the rewarding projects sponsored by local PTAs.

PTA membership provides opportunities to meet and talk with other parents who have the same worries as you. Sharing common concerns, you will feel more empowered to do the tough job of parenting. Being part of a group results in parental support and makes school involvement easier. You will no longer feel “all alone” in rearing your child.

PTA also provides educational opportunities and activities that encourage a feeling of belonging and school pride for students and adults. Students notice which things are important in the lives of adults around them; making your kid’s school and PTA important tells your child that school is worth your time and interest – your positive example can make a difference.

The 13 PTAs of the Lake Highlands area are active participants in the RISD Council of PTAs, which is comprised of 52 PTA chapters. As members of this Council of PTAs, the Lake Highlands PTAs contributed more than 487,000 volunteer hours in the ’93-’94 school year. Members helped coordinate a district-wide play for first- and second-graders and symphony performances for fifth-graders, collected and sold 46,000 used books to create scholarship money for eight graduating seniors and six teachers, contributed clothing to a student needs “clothes closet,” donated to a student emergency fund, encouraged the participation by students in cultural arts and environmental programs, and assisted in the creation of PTA legislative positions encouraging gun safety and non-violent conflict resolution.

Each PTA functions through its bylaws and the Objects of PTA. Each individual chapter assesses the needs of its students and members and creates programs in parenting, health, safety and education as warranted.

Lake Highlands PTAs have repeatedly been recognized on a state, district and council level for parent involvement and education, child safety, volunteerism and cultural arts participation.

It is because of the support of parents, teachers, principals, school administrators, students, grandparents, single-adult community representatives and others who care about the welfare of children and youth that so much is accomplished on our campuses.

The kids can’t lose, with so much support for them; be an active advocate for children. Call a school, and ask to join the PTA so you can be a part of your child’s or teen’s school, because in Lake Highlands and RISD, you have the opportunity to help us demonstrate that “Kids are the Whole Point.”