Students, staff explain deeper impact of building Homecoming playhouses

Marissa Ryan

Senior class president Meredith Lipps is a veteran of the annual Homecoming playhouse build. While she participates in other charitable activities, the three year veteran said she values the event, which involves building and decorating a child’s prefabricated playhouse from beginning to end in one afternoon.

Lipps said, “(The playhouse build) is definitely on the smaller side in comparison to most (other activities), but to me, I don’t feel it’s less important. With just five houses, we generally are able to raise a decent amount of money for the CEF (Carmel Education Foundation). It’s definitely more chaotic and a rush against time, but it’s one of the more rewarding events to look back on at the end of the day.”

This year’s event may occur on Sept. 19 and students of all classes are welcomed to join; class officers, as well as class sponsors, always participate in the event. However, Ashley Pistello, second-year Freshman Class sponsor said class sponsors are actually highly encouraged not to participate in the building of the playhouses, as it is intended to be a student-led process.

Pistello said students do not need a background in construction to participate in the activity.

“I don’t have the skill of building a playhouse in my back pocket and I don’t think a lot of students do as well. I don’t think it’s about that specific task, it’s about how you learn something new and do it efficiently. How you work as a team? How you divide and conquer? They really have to work together on those soft skills and people skills to have a finished playhouse by the end of the night,” Pistello said.

Laasya Mamidipalli
Take a look at the components that go into creating a playhouse

Ana Mercado, Junior Class president and first-year building member, said,  “For me, it’s an honor to be able to be a part of such a big Carmel Homecoming tradition, and I can’t wait to see everyone’s creativity with making their houses. I think it helps build the spirit within the school, not only to show the grades working together, but it’s for a good cause.”

As the tradition continues, so do the rules. The playhouses are part of the parade to showcase the students’ work and then put up for bid at the Homecoming football game. The starting bid on the playhouses is $300 and then goes up by increments of $50.

Lipps said, “The most exciting part of the fundraiser for me is not even on the night of the building. My favorite part is during the Homecoming game being able to see the houses from across the field with all the community members and kids looking and exploring them. That’s also the day that they announce the winner of who raised the most money from their house, which adds another level of intensity and excitement to the night.”

According to Pistello, classes determine themes prior to building so the class sponsors can purchase materials the night before. When the students arrive, the playhouses are still in boxes and construction is completely up to them – with a few professionals to work power tools.

Pistello said, “I think it’s really neat to see all the students come together. It’s fun to see how the selling of the playhouses gets the community involved; it allows them to see what our students are doing with their own time after school.”Marissa Ryan

Mercado and Lipps both said this fundraiser offers an extra opportunity to celebrate students’ achievements through school spirit. Every student is welcome to participate in and experience a fundraiser like no other school events.

“Playhouse building is something that helps resemble what it means to be a CHS student. The hard work and planning it takes to actually self-build the house with only students is so special to see come together at the end of the night, while covered in paint,” Lipps said. “In addition, the past three years I have met new friends in my grade that I hadn’t been close to before, so that’s super cool to see come together towards a common goal. It’s also just a way to carry on the traditions of the CHS students that have come before us and partake in the same events.”