MASON COUNTY — From southern to northern Mason County this week, and all points in-between, students were preparing to return to classes with the majority of them starting the new school year on Thursday, while preschoolers and kindergartners start later this month.
On Wednesday, Beale Elementary in Gallipolis Ferry organized a “Community Back-to-School Bash” with help from a $2,000 Education Alliance Community Grant.
Principal Patricia Brumfield said the grant was used to purchase educational games, some of which would be given away at the bash, some which would be used for the entire school year. The grant, along with assistance from the school and its PTO, also helped purchase additional items for the bash including food, door prizes and inflatables for the kids to enjoy. In addition, a host of local organizations rose to the challenge and showed up to give away free times, from Pleasant Valley Hospital, to Peoples Bank, to CONTACT of Mason, to Fruth Pharmacy, to Save the Children, to the Point Pleasant River Museum and Learning Center, to the Title I program, to the Mason County Library and much more. Support also included appearances by year-round partners in education ICL and Letart Corporation.
Brumfield said the other great thing about the school’s bash was that it involved the entire community and was also meant as an outreach event for neighbors who support Beale as well. The bash also allowed students a chance to visit with their new teachers as well as new classrooms and allowed parents to get all the information they need for the upcoming school year in one visit. Students even had an opportunity to sign up for youth football.
Beale has around 300 students and 45 service staff and though it is known as a smaller school in Mason County, it’s a local school which deals with a big issue for some of its student population, namely poverty. Brumfield said she was happy to see the school year start so Beale could provide kids who need it, a place where they are fed, loved and can learn.
In northern Mason County, Bend Area children were treated to an evening of activities Tuesday, when both New Haven Elementary School and the Town of New Haven hosted separate back-to-school parties.
Students began the night at the school, where the children received a free book from the Title I program upon entering the gates.
Bounce houses and an inflatable slide, sponsored by the school’s P.T.I., provided entertainment. Karaoke was held by music teacher and choir director Kim Bond.
Students had the opportunity to meet their teacher for the upcoming year, and Principal Stacy Bissell was on hand to speak with parents. Those interested were able to sign up to help in classrooms and various parent-teacher events.
Pleasant Valley Hospital Director of Marketing and Community Relations Tracy Call announced during the party that a school-based health clinic will be offered on a regular basis at New Haven, to provide services to both students and staff. Run similar to an “urgent care” facility, School Nurse Samantha Knapp said additional information will be sent home to parents during the first days of school.
Door prizes of backpacks were given to children whose names were drawn. All attending were treated to hotdogs, chips, drinks and watermelon.
Children went from the school directly to the fire department, where the town-sponsored party was held. Hula hoops, Frisbees, and sidewalk chalk provided entertainment for the students.
Bernita Allen provided music. The main street was blocked to traffic, which meant the children were literally “dancing in the streets.”
Nearly 60 backpacks filled with school supplies, as well as lunch boxes, were given out. Area residents donated many of the supplies, while town Recorder Roberta Hysell said $795 cash was given by local businesses and townspeople to assist with the party. Pizza, cookies and drinks were served.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.