Blue Ridge Primary School and Green Meadows Intermediate School came together on Friday evening to host the first iteration of the School Carnival for students and families to explore resources and bond with other local families.
Niccole Peterson, Blue Ridge Assistant Principal, and Connie Sanders, Blue Ridge Kindergarten Teacher, were highlighted as the driving forces behind the organization and implementation of the event in partnership with members of the Green Meadows team. Lindsey Bright, Green Meadows Principal, stated that this year’s iteration of the carnival is the first in numerous years and acts as a revitalization of the event.
“We want parents to see school as not just a place they bring their kids to drop off for eight hours a day but that this is part of their community too,” Peterson said. “We invited our community partners to come join us and also our staff and our kids and our parents so that they could all join us for a great event and have a time to connect.”
The carnival featured numerous activities and experiences for the families of Blue Ridge and Green Meadows to explore throughout the evening, beginning with a free meal consisting of hotdogs, chips, cookies and more from Faith Family Church and Frito Lay. The families were invited into the Blue Ridge gym to explore community resources from the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, COACH Kids, United Way for Clinton County, Industrial Federal Credit Union, Frankfort Community Public Library, Clinton County 4-H and more. Peterson highlighted the presence of Edward Jones, which appeared at the event to offer parents financial guidance to plan for their children’s futures.
“We’ve been wanting to do something to bring family in and community in since COVID,” Peterson said. “COVID really took away our opportunity to be able to have a great mass of people come together, and we want to go back to that. This isn’t just a one year thing. We want to do this for many more years.”
Lines began forming outside of the doors almost an hour before the event began and families continued to funnel into Blue Ridge and the parking lot to experience the array of festivities throughout the night. Students and children were encouraged to participate in carnival games to win tickets that could be spent on prizes acquired through sponsors or face painting. Families were also invited to explore fire trucks from the Frankfort Fire Department, hydrovac trucks from GroundBreakers and tractors and bulldozers from the Clinton County Highway Department. Many staff members were even invited to board the tower ladder apparatus on the fire trucks to see the carnival from an aerial perspective for 90 seconds.
“We had people here at 4:07 with the event starting at 5,” Peterson said. “It is really exciting. I am so excited.”
Peterson expressed that the success of the first carnival since the pandemic has inspired the staff to begin plans for next year to implement an even more extravagant experience. Peterson continued to state that the schools will continue implementing and improving community-wide events every month to continue fostering the connection between local families and the schools.
“We want to do this next year for sure,” Peterson said. “We have a Title (1 Curriculum) Night every month that grade levels sponsor. It’s not typically this big. One night we might do writing with our family members. We might do reading with our family members. We also have EL nights where we try to integrate our students that are multilingual language learners with their families into the schools.”
Staff members and local law enforcement teamed together to help direct visitors to parking spaces around the schools. Staff members operating the various carnival games were able to minimize the time spent for each contestant while also maximizing the enjoyment to keep the lines short and flowing throughout the night. Peterson stated that the collaboration between the schools and community partners has been a focus for the schools in recent years to encourage families to view Blue Ridge and Green Meadows as a centerpoint of their community.
“For the last two years, it’s something that we’ve been working on really hard,” Peterson said. “All of our Title Nights are done together. All of our big events we also want to plan together. We’re doing things back and forth too where the big kids come read with the younger kids, and it really makes us one big core group between the schools.”
Peterson stated that the staff printed 1,200 tickets for the event with only a few hundred left over after the first hour of festivities, marking over 1,000 people in attendance throughout the night.