April 11, 2018

Contributed
A splintered gumbo limbo was among the damages to the Treasure Village Montessori School's playground last year when Hurricane Irma made landfall on Sept. 10 in the Keys. The school is fundraising to restore the area.

Contributed A splintered gumbo limbo was among the damages to the Treasure Village Montessori School's playground last year when Hurricane Irma made landfall on Sept. 10 in the Keys. The school is fundraising to restore the area.

ISLAMORADA — Treasure Village Montessori Charter School is calling all pirates to attend its “Nautical Nights: A Pirate Adventure” fundraising event next weekend at the newly reopened Cheeca Lodge & Spa.

Treasure Village Principal Kelly Mangel expects a good mix of people to be costumed as pirates or decked out in “Keys formal” wear to attend an evening of rum tastings, auctions and Vegas-style games.

“We have teachers here who already have their outfits picked out. They’ve been planning it. Some people are going all-out as pirates,” Mangel said.

The school hopes to raise $90,000 during the annual fundraiser, which is even more important this year after Hurricane Irma.

“We accrued almost $250,000 in damages from the hurricane. It destroyed our playground,” Mangel said.

The school, which rents the Treasure Village site, is responsible for maintenance and repairs under the terms of its lease.

“A large percentage of our building was damaged during the storm, and it’s not like we can just tell the landlord that we need something fixed,” Mangel said.  “We are a public school, and we have a different curriculum. It’s a great one. It’s a creative curriculum that was started by a group of parents in 1996. We are funded as a public school through the state, and we do get $55,000 for capital outlay projects.”

But that’s not enough to cover rent and other expenses, so the school has to seek $65,000 to $80,000 in grants and donations each year, Mangel said.

There are 220 students from voluntary pre-kindergarten through eighth grade at the tuition-free public school, which has 25 full-time faculty members. The damaged playground provided important playtime for the students and had served as an outdoor classroom for science lessons.

“We have aluminum fencing that went down,” Mangel said. “Our awning, the catwalk that students use to get between classes and some windows blew out. Some sheds were crushed, so we lost a lot of equipment, and the roof was damaged.”

A neighboring lot owner has allowed the school to use his property for physical education and open field activities each Wednesday.

Mangel says the fundraiser will provide an enjoyable night out.

“This is a fun event,” she said. “It’s a chance to party like a pirate.”

Mangel is excited the event is being held at the Cheeca Lodge, and even though the menu hadn’t been formalized yet as of last Friday, she’s betting it will be good. It’s being prepared by the resort’s new chef, Paul Lowd.

Nautical Nights is from 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday, April 14, at Cheeca Lodge, 81801 Overseas Higway. Tickets are $150 per person, which includes pirate’s grog, a set of game chips and dinner. The event is maxed out at 125 seats.

To purchase tickets or for more information, call Treasure Village Montessori School at 305-852-3482.

tjava@keysnews.com