movie tickets and clapboard on pink background, bonfire and performers at a school talent show with text box below

Tried and True PTO / PTA Middle School Events That Aren’t Lame

Hey, middle school PTO leaders!

Are you looking for some fresh ideas that will really get your students excited about school?

One of the hardest parts about transitioning from the elementary PTO to the middle school or Junior High PTO is coming up with events that kids will be excited about and won’t think are lame.

The main issue is that the kids are getting out of that little kids stage and are in the in-between where they’re not quite self-sufficient and they’re just learning how to be young adults, but they haven’t quite got it figured out.

So, what do you do as a PTO as far as programs and events for middle schoolers?

Let’s dive into three tried and true PTO sponsored event ideas that work perfectly for the middle school age set.

Why Events Needs to be Tweaked for Middle School PTOs

One of the biggest differences between elementary school and middle school PTOs is just the number of events that your PTO is probably planning.

At the lower and even the upper elementary school levels in my district, my PTA planned a ton of events.

There was a different family fun program pretty much every single month. 

Now, when you get to middle school, the situation kind of changes.

One, because the school starts planning more activities.

Two, you have school sports kind of get into the mix, and so the kids are much busier.

This means your PTO doesn’t really have to be planning programs or events every month, nor do you probably have the time.

Middle School schedules are also pretty full because you have band concerts, orchestra concerts, and all sorts of new activities.

As the kids get older, there are more school clubs and activities for them to be involved in, so that really leaves less room in the schedule for PTO or PTA-sponsored activities. 

This doesn’t mean your PTO can’t or shouldn’t plan events. 

You’re just going to have to scale back and plan events specifically tailored to the interests of this pickier age set. 

Movie Night

One of the most popular events at my kids’ Junior High School was a PTO-sponsored movie night.

We held the event this right before Winter Break, so it was well-timed because usually not much is going on right before breaks, and it’s a nice excuse to get out of the house and bring the kids all together.

We set the event up in the gym, got a big inflatable screen, and used the school’s A/V projector and speaker systems.

We offered popcorn and lemonade for free, and then we also sold candy, chips, and soda.

Of course, middle school kids love candy, so we actually made a tidy little sum even though the event was not intended as a fundraiser.

We ended up making about $250 from the movie night, which is crazy because that’s a big chunk of change to make in such a short amount of time. 


The next activity that has become a crowd favorite is our PTA annual bonfire.

Now, this might sound a little scary to your Principal in particular, but know that a bonfire can happen safely.

You’ll need the support of your administration since you might get a little pushback from your local Fire Department because they generally don’t want things to be intentionally set on fire.

Anticipate having to jump through unanticipated hoops, like buying bales of hay, and specific placement of the bonfire, among other things.

My PTO had to jump through a number of different hoops, and they’ve changed over the years as the event was repeated.

But none were so great that we had to cancel the event.

We held our bonfire on our baseball field because it is a dirt field, so I don’t think dirt can really burn. It was the perfect space to have the bonfire.

The custodians kept old pallets for us, and as soon as we had it on the calendar, they were really excited about it because it was a different kind of event to prepare for.

Our custodians, were pyros apparently (totally joking)!

Even though the main intent for this middle school PTO event was as a free event, we offered both free and paid treats for the evening.

For the bonfire, we offered popcorn, donut holes and apple cider for free and sold candy, chips, sports drinks and soda.

Our profit level was about the same. movie night, where we offered popcorn, donut holes, and cider for free and also sold concessions like sports drinks, soda, and candy. We probably made the same amount, if not more, as we did for the movie night.

While the school movie night was just for students the bonfire was more of a family event.

For the most part, entire family units didn’t hang out together for the event, but they were at least at the event together.
Beyond the main event of burning things on the baseball field, we arranged for a DJ and music.

The school helped to organize the cheerleaders and fall sports teams to come in uniform and they were announced by the DJ, which made it feel a bit like a mini school pep rally, which was fun!

Talent Show

The last event that I’ll suggest to you for your middle school or Junior High audience is a school talent show.

It’s super fun to see how talented kids are, and giving them a night to showcase all they’ve got is really a smart event for your PTO to coordinate.

If you don’t have enough people signed up for a nighttime event, see if the school will run it during the day. 

That’s kind of what happened with my first attempt for a middle school talent show.

I had done an evening talent show for both the upper elementary and lower elementary schools on different occasions, and they went off really well.

But when it came time to repeat the event for the middle school crowd, they were less enthusiastic about signing up to showcase their acts.

I guess that was to be expected given the nature of tweens and early teenagers, right?

The Principal didn’t want the kids who’d stepped up to volunteer to feel embarrassed by a lack of audience, so he suggested we switch the timing to during the day.

And that turned out to be a great idea!

Held the day before Spring Break, when the kids are mostly tuned out anyway, everyone gathered in the school gymnasium.

The students were really excited to cheer on their classmates.

We had kids rapping, singing, dancing, playing the piano, playing other instruments, and even someone doing poetry.

It was just a super fun way to get the kids together and give them something to talk about.

There was zero disrespect or jeering, which was really nice to see. Sometimes those middle schoolers can surprise you in such a positive way!

Watch this!

This video highlights PTO sponsored events that are perfect for middle school students:

Tried and True Crowd Pleasing PTO / PTA Middle School Events

Over to you

Hopefully these three ideas for middle school events are something you feel inspired to try for your PTO too.

Trying something new can be such a motivator for you and your fellow PTO volunteers, so I hope you’ll give at least one a try.

They’re all great community builders and work well to get middle school students together for a semi-organized activity that appeals to their interests!

And they’re great events to partner with the school to make happen, further strengthening your PTO’s relationship with the school for a win-win situation.

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