Carter County and Elizabethton city students got a jump start on the school year Saturday at Back-2-School Bash 2018.
For the third year in a row, Elizabethton City Schools, East River Park Christian Church, Carter County Health Department and the Elizabethton Police Department teamed to bring together a huge community event to prepare students in the area for the first day of school.
“We wanted to make sure that all students come into our school system on equal footing on day one,” said Corey Gardenhour, director of schools at Elizabethton City Schools.
Walking into Citizens Bank Stadium at Elizabethton High School, students and families were greeted by a few of the 200 volunteers that came out. They were directed to tents assigned by their grade to receive a free backpack full of school supplies. Through donations from the community, there were 1,000 backpacks to give away to students.
From there, the families explored various vendors that included places for students to receive various supplies for their school year like toothbrushes, hand sanitizer and fun items from one of the 45 different vendors that set up tents.
Jenny Lea Academy had students giving free haircuts and there were opportunities for parents to peruse health and education resources, including signing up for pre-kindergarten.
Ashley Smith is a parent with three children in the school system who said the event was amazing. Both of her daughters got haircuts soon after arriving. Smith said having everything in one place helped a lot with her back-to-school preparation.
“Right now we’re in a position where its really hard to get everything that’s needed, and it helps to be able to have stuff like this to help people that really need it,” Smith said.
After a free lunch and some time on inflatables and races through a police obstacle course, families caught up with friends, relaxed on the field and browsed the many activities.
“Everyone has a function. ... Our local emergency services providers, police and fire, are here because we feel like sometimes people see them in an emergency and not as a helpful part of our community,” Gardenhour said. “And they are here to help us.”
There are many reasons for the bash, but Gardenhour says that it’s mostly to connect with families and students. He says he wants all the students to feel confident when returning to school.
“Our focus is where it needs to be, which is with our children,” Gardenhour said.