It's likely that you are familiar with the PTA, you may have been actively involved in your elementary school's PTA, you may have helped at your middle school's PTA events, and now that your kids are at Berkeley High you might be thinking "I'm done!"

Berkeley High is a great high school. Its principal Erin Schweng is an impressive and collaborative leader. The BHS Development Group and Athletic Fund raise a lot of money, and along with the BSEP and LCAP committees, parents have a voice in bringing many resources and enrichment opportunities to our students.

So what could possibly be missing? What's the value of having a PTA at Berkeley High?

At the high school level, the PTA's mission is to build a whole school community. The PTA at Berkeley High is actually a PTSA, a Parent Teacher Student Association. The school's distinct learning communities afford our students great opportunities, but they fractionalize the student body and parent community. To provide effective advocacy for students and parents, Berkeley High needs a strong unified parent voice.

Many of us hear that Berkeley High is a great school for kids who are self directed, but the kids who aren't can easily get lost. Yes, kids who can recognize and voice their needs can hook up with resources independently and these kids thrive. But not all kids can steer their own course successfully, and often parents who need to assist their kids don't know where to go or they hit obstacles. Moreover, something unanticipated can land any kid in a situation that needs parent or guardian advocacy.

In addition to supporting the high school's students, parents, and guardians, the PTSA can sponsor whole school activities that are fun and safe. It can make current campus events more welcoming (like bringing food trucks to this year's back-to-school night) and it can sponsor parent and student opportunities for socializing, learning, and advocacy (like screenings of film "The Mask You Live In").

Right now our nation's public schools are under attack more than ever before. Berkeley’s become the battleground destination for Alt-Right and Antifa showdowns in the park across the street from the high school. We believe that a strong PTSA can help keep Berkeley High on the up and up and set a good example for our country. After all, working together in the public schools is perhaps the best opportunity in life for adults and kids to surmount the racial, cultural, and economic boundaries that separate us. So let’s embrace our diversity and be a team again and work together to make Berkeley High School a safe, equitable, enriching, and fun experience for our kids.

Join the PTSA this year. Bring your ideas, enthusiasm, passions, and commitment. Take the ball and run with it. The sky's the limit!