Parents and staff at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School were popping bottles of sparkling cider Wednesday to celebrate the unveiling of the school’s new marquee.

After years of work toward purchasing the digital LED marquee by MLK’s events coordinator Trish Hernandez, MLK PTSA treasurer Christi Erben and many others, the school finally got to show if its newest addition.

“After years of work towards it, it’s quite a relief to know we’ll leave a legacy for the school and we made a change,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez worked with Erben to bring together previous fundraising groups/efforts and create new fundraising events in order to meet the goal for the purchase of the new marquee.

The school held fundraising events for years as part of the “Marquee by May” program.

“The P.E. department held a fun run several years ago,” Hernandez said. “There were previous funds in the Parent Teacher Student Association from years of fundraising for the school. Last year in early 2022, we started a hard pitch for the marquee through various fundraising events all under the heading of ‘Marquee by May.’ These events include: family/spirit nights at restaurants around town (Panda Express, Chick-fil-A, Red Robin, Chill Zone and Pizza 9), a silent auction at our spring carnival, Savers FUNDrive, Read-A-Thon, and our gifted students submitted a video to the Woodmen Life ‘America Is’ contest and won third place. These students donated the award to the Marquee by May campaign.”

All those events helped “Marquee by May” become a success, and the school will show off its new digital LED marquee well ahead of the time frame set for the fundraiser.

And what does the marquee mean for students, parents and teachers at MLK?

“I think the biggest thing that we discovered during COVID was how hard it was to communicate with our families with only having limited text that we could have up there,” Erben said. “When we were relying on trying to communicate all our different events all virtually, we knew we just really needed something that could catch their attention, change and then also highlight our kids and our staff when something wonderful happens.”

The ribbon-cutting event was attended by staff, including principal Jessica Kettler, and friends of the school, like Rio Rancho business owners Elaine and James Diaz.

“We have finally seen this dream come to fruition,” Hernandez said.