Idyllwild School volunteer of the year Kathy Wilson with certificate of appreciation from the Hemet Unified School District Superintendent Barry Kayell. Photo by Marshall Smith
The board of the Hemet Unified School District announced volunteers of the year for each of its district schools on Tuesday, April 23. The board named Kathy Wilson as 2012-2013 Idyllwild School honoree for her work in raising money to fund special programs at the school.

For six years Wilson has worked with the local PTA to produce and direct the Idyllwild Haunted Ghost Town, a month-long Halloween fright and delight experience that has developed regional fame and a strong following.

“She does an exceptional job with the ghost town,” Idyllwild Principal Matt Kraemer said. “She’s responsible for bringing in a lot of money that helps fund one of our special programs.” The program, discovery education, is a digital library in science, social studies and math for K-8 students that costs the school $3,200 a year.

Directing ghost town, erecting the animatronic-laden maze, assembling the corps of 100 volunteers, and arranging both the backstage and onstage infrastructures is a major commitment of time and energy.

“I take one month off,” Wilson said, noting that the preparation for and presentation of the ghost town involve most of her time for a year. She said it is worth it, not just for the money raised to fund Idyllwild School programs, but because of how it helps educate the many students that participate as volunteers.

“At a basic level, these kids [actor corps of ghosts, ghouls and gremlins] are learning to act,” she said. “For those working stage crew, they’re learning about technology. Many of our effects are computer run. And overall, they’re learning how to serve the community as volunteers.”

And the “scare” factor of the production is not to be trifled with Wilson said. “At least five adults a night cannot finish the ghost town maze and elect to take one of the ‘chicken’ exits. We’ve had so many of our audience tell us this is better than Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farms.” Each year Wilson tries to step it up and add something new based on input from kids and adults.

Although Wilson directs and plans the production, she said this could not be done without the support from the PTA.

Idyllwild Haunted Ghost Town opens the first weekend in October and runs through the Halloween weekend at the end of the month. For more information see,