I call these drums "training" drums. When used in marching band or indoor drumline, I explain to the kids that they can focus on their feet and not worry about making the line dirty with their hands. Eventually, they graduate to the real heads and they fit right in. My current center snare started on one of these drums. You can always give that a try.
Remo makes these heads in every size for about the same as a regular head. I've used them on marching snares (not torqued down) and they have lasted for two seasons.
As far as for the pep rallies, is there a way to have any of the HS kids come over to help? Or, maybe you or an assistant play the drums with the kid?