‘Whimsically Witchy’ collects big donations for Staunton school programs

Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 11:21 PM EST
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - Spooky season has come and gone, but McSwain Elementary School in Staunton is still feeling the benefits.

On Thursday, Camille Dierksheide and the McSwain PTA gave a donation of $2,429.95 to the school’s Art and Music departments from her Whimsically Witchy Halloween display.

“I’m amazed at all this support, and I’m so excited, and the children are thrilled,” art teacher, Tina Purdy said.

She and Berkeley Harner, McSwain’s music teacher, were overwhelmed at the communities generosity for programs that are often overlooked at most schools.

“It’s unheard of. Music and art are usually some of the first things that people are like ‘welp we don’t need that,’ but honestly, we do,” he said. “It’s super important to our community growth, our students’ growth, [and] their mental health.”

PTA president, Stacy Sheehy, said the parents at their school have wanted to pour into those programs for quite some time.

“Several years ago, Camille sent out a survey to all McSwain parents, and it was overwhelming that they wanted to support the arts, so that really has been a focus over the last couple of years,” Sheehy said. “Our kids love those classes, and they love seeing new instruments come in and new music and really seeing their teachers engaged.”

But, no one expected the amount of support they received.

“We were first gonna earmark it for mixed media supplies, some book-making and fiber things that we haven’t been able to get before and now that it’s such a large amount, I’m not sure,” Purdy said.

Dierksheide said since we last spoke with her, over 700 people from 10 different countries logged onto her website to see what the display was all about. The response encouraged her to go even bigger next year.

“We’d like to earn enough money to augment art, music, and drama funding for the entire district,” Dierksheide said.

She added that a long-term goal of hers is to create an endowment that the whole region can draw from.

Overall, this experience has touched her in a new way.

“As a full-time mom, someone who has stepped away from professional life and my career as a musician, it’s been incredibly gratifying and just a wonderful feeling to know I’ve made a difference,” she said.

For more on Whimsically Witchy and Camille Dierkshiede, check out this story: