NEW BRITAIN - Students shuffled with excitement through the crowds with parents in tow at the Consolidated School District of New Britain’s “Back to School Bash” event on Friday night at New Britain Stadium.
The 4th annual event was held in partnership with Whitsons Culinary Group and the New Britain Bees. It began at 5:30 p.m. prior to the New Britain Bees game against the Long Island Ducks, which, thanks to Whitsons, included free admission to the game for all families throughout the school district.
According to Superintendent Nancy Sarra, the excitement in the air was exactly what she was hoping for.
“We want the kids to start the school year excited and to carry the memory of having started every school year this way,” Sarra said.
For Layla Pope, who will be starting Kindergarten at Gaffney Elementary School in the fall, this was the first time she was able to attend the Back to School Bash.
“I’m excited,” Layla said who, according to her mother, has been waiting for years to be able to start school.
Her brother, Davion, who is entering the 5th grade, still shares that excitement for school and for Friday night’s event.
“I’m excited to see baseball, and for all the free stuff,” Davion said.
There were free backpacks, pencils, erasers, snacks and given out by school administrators and community partners.
This was also the first bash for some administrators as well.
Shamel Lewis is set to begin his first school year as Principal of Jefferson Elementary School, and despite having worked in other school districts before, said he has never seen a school kickoff event quite like the Back to School Bash.
Lewis said he and his staff are ready for the school year to begin.
“I’m in work mode. I come here to meet our families and bring some enthusiasm for this important work,” Lewis said.
For most in attendance, families and faculty alike, the sense of community the event brings is one of the best reasons to attend.
Jessica Garcia, whose daughter Maya attends Roosevelt Early Learning Center, said that’s a big part of why they came.
“I like to get [my kids] out in their community, and it’s just a really fun event,” Garcia said.
Todd Verdi, principal of Slade Middle School, echoed that sentiment.
“From a family perspective, from a teacher perspective, it’s a great way to interact and build with the community,” Verdi said.
He went on to add how this stronger relationship within the community is beneficial to education.
“A good education comes with strengthening relationships, and that’s what we’re here to do,” Verdi said.
For the district’s Coordinator for Partnership Sondra Sanford, who helped organize the event, this is exactly what her goal was.
“We wanted to get families and students excited about school, and to get connected,” Sanford said. “I’m thankful for a great team of people for making this happen.”
All 17 schools within the Consolidated School District were represented at the event.