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All-male PTA "Knights" seek to improve Oakland school


A group of enthusiastic men just finished discussing typical PTA issues at the Claremont Middle school in Oakland: issues like what their next fundraising event will be and where to hold their next meeting. What sets this group apart is the fact that it's composed of men. They call themselves ‘The Knights of the Roundtable."

Ken Tramiel is the founder of the Knights of the Roundtable and the father of a seventh grader. When his daughter started at Claremont Middle school, he noticed very few men were involved there. He had heard that there used to be a dad's club but that it never really got off the ground.

He says his mission is to “come together to bring ideas, try to be involved with the schools with the faculty, with the students – it’s kind of one of those times when kids really need that support as much as possible as well as the parents because everyone is going through that transition.”

Fellow Knight Carroll Moore says the men work to make campus repairs and help the kids take pride in their school. But they are also trying to show students that men care about them and their school. Traditionally, Moore believes, communities don't see enough support from the fathers.

The Knights organize upcoming meetings and fundraisers, and find new ways to get the kids involved. These men not only want to raise money for the school, Moore says, but they also want to contribute to the kids’ lives on a personal level and make a statement in the community.

The Knights of the Roundtable have only been around for a year, but they’ve already developed into a fundraising machine. They recently had a pancake breakfast that raised $4,000, and an open-air movie night where they watched Indiana Jones, and raised $400.

The Knights have high hopes of becoming a powerful force at the school. These men feel like they have a moral obligation to the kids, especially to students who don’t have good male role models at home. By contributing to the kid’s lives they hope to have a lasting impact for years to come.

Celeste Agos-Fikiri is a student reporter at Mills College in Oakland.