The first Back to School Bash held at West Hartsville Elementary on Aug. 15, went beyond the traditional meet and greet, and engaged families in an entirely new way. The two-hour event was full of fun and entertainment that engaged children, their parents and siblings in ways to take the stress out of starting a new school year. Students walked the halls with their parents in a scavenger hunt, meeting teachers and visiting classrooms. At the Media Center, they chose a free book. After the indoor activities were done, a family-style cookout was held on the school grounds.
Recalling an African proverb, “It takes a village,” school principal Tara King says the teachers and staff understand that relationships are crucial to student success.
The school's Parent Team came up with the idea for the bash. The Parent Team is an involved group of parents, teachers and staff that evolved out of the Comer School Development Program (SDP). The school is beginning its third year of a five-year pilot program designed to improve student learning and academic performance. “We are all partners in the development of our children,” King explains. “Good relationships with parents are crucial to our success.”
Dorothy Anderson brought her fifth grader and 4K grandchildren to the event. Now that she is raising her grandchildren, she says it's important to keep up with everything they do. Active in many aspects of the girls' schooling, she notes, “It makes a big difference in how they learn.”
In Christa Henderson's fourth grade class, she explains how the day is structured, and eases any fears about changing classes. “Don't you worry,” she says to a young girl, “we won't let you get lost.”
Outside, as the event draws to a close, fifth grader Jocelyn Sellers proudly wears a West Hartsville sweatshirt she won. “I had fun today,” she says enthusiastically, recounting the games she played and the scavenger hunt tasks she accomplished. “I can't wait for school to start.”
One of the main objectives for the event, King says, was to get parents to sign up as volunteers. When one father signed up, he said he didn't think there was much he could do, but the teachers assured him, there would be plenty of ways he could help. Parent involvement can be as simple as reading to a class or serving on a committee.
“We want to encourage parents to be involved,” King says. “We are all in this together.”
For more information on volunteer opportunities at West Hartsville Elementary School, contact the school, 843-857-3720.