MARYSVILLE — Thanks to the roughly 150 or so attendees who filtered through the back room at Alfy’s Pizza on March 1, the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Life Skills Program raised an estimated $3,500 through its annual “Parker’s Cure” silent auction.
“That’s more than double last year’s take of around $1,500,” said Jim Strickland, the teacher of the Life Skills class at M-PHS, who noted that this year marked the first that the silent auction just so happened to coincide with the Life Skills students’ monthly open-mic pizza party at Alfy’s.
This year’s notable auction items included autographs from the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, Bravo’s Andy Cohen and Survivor winner “Boston Rob,” as well as two paintings from Seattle-area artists Michael Tolleson and Jack Carl Anderson, a Lynda Allen photo shoot and golf lessons from Alex Stacy at the Battle Creek Golf Course.
Strickland explained that last year’s silent auction funds covered the costs of transporting the entire Life Skills program to the Woodland Park Zoo last spring, including several students in wheelchairs, as well as all of the instructional interns, who are general education students serving as interns in the program as an elective. Auction funds also went toward Fred Meyer gift cards that were used to purchase food and supplies for ongoing cooking activities for the Life Skills students, since shopping and meal preparation are part of the program’s independent living curriculum.
Strickland was gratified to see this year’s silent auction sync up with the monthly open-mic pizza party, because he believes that the socialization afforded by such events is as vital as the funds raised throughout the evening.
“Students who have autism, intellectual disabilities or trouble communicating simply come alive with music,” Strickland said. “It somehow reaches beyond the barriers imposed by their disabilities, and serves as a common language where they can meet the world as equals. We not only use music in the classroom, but many of our Life Skills students also participate in our M-PHS Open-Mic Club, that meets every Thursday after school.”
Strickland credited the Life Skills Program’s parent group with coming up with the open-mic pizza party while brainstorming ideas for fun social opportunities for the students, and expressed his gratitude to Alfy’s Pizza for donating the use of their party rooms for the monthly event.
“Given the power of music and a microphone to bring out a side of our students that nothing else can, we naturally thought of a public open-mic event,” Strickland said. “My hope is that these events can become a time when people, both with and without disabilities, can come together to celebrate the joy and universal language of music.”
The M-PHS Life Skills Program’s open-mic pizza parties run from 4-6 p.m. on the second Friday of the month, and the next such event is scheduled for April 12.
“Come out and join us, to sing or just enjoy some great pizza and a heart-warming show,” Strickland said.