It’s now a matter of weeks, not months, before public schools are back in session, and one of the heralds of the new term is coming up next week.
The Baldwin County School District will hold its annual Back to School Bash Friday, July 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event returns to last year’s venue as it will be housed within the halls of Baldwin High School on the cafeteria side of the building.
Families are encouraged to attend so they can learn about all the resources available in the community that can help their students be successful this year and also get their hands on some free school supplies.
The Bash is being put together by the local public school system in conjunction with the Milledgeville Housing Authority and Communities in Schools of Milledgeville-Baldwin County. Vendors and community organizations will set up booths and tables throughout the halls of Baldwin High giving families a look at the different services they offer. School district parent engagement specialist Karen Stanley encourages Bash attendees to really listen to representatives at each booth and not just be grab-and-goers.
“We’re excited,” Stanley told The Union-Recorder. “We want to try and expand it each year to make it better and more convenient for our parents. It’s very important, not just because they can come pick up the school supplies and talk to building administrators, but also to be able to tap into all the resources that are available here in Baldwin County. That’s the most important thing. There’s so much that’s offered here, we just want people to take advantage of those services.”
Those who visit a high number of booths will be eligible for grand prizes — book bags packed with school supplies for different grade levels. The school district is currently holding a school supply drive, and those wishing to donate pens, paper, folders, or other basic supplies may drop them off next week at either the board office or Early Learning Center. The board office will resume regular operating hours Monday and be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Another resource Stanley wants families to be made aware of comes thanks to the school district’s partnership with the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank based out of Macon. Starting within the last year, the food bank’s mobile food pantry has made several trips to various spots around Baldwin County providing meals and groceries for families in need.
“All they need to do is just show up and they can receive these benefits,” Stanley said. “In June we served over 300 families, which is great.”
Outside of the regular community partners and vendors, each school will have a table set up so families either new to the Baldwin County School District or new to that building can meet their building administrators. HealthMPowers will launch its new pop-up farmers market at the Bash where local farmers will have their produce for sale. The organization is planning to hold similar pop-up markets outside schools twice monthly throughout the school year, giving families access to local produce and farmers more customers for their crops.
Other services available at the annual event include health and dental screenings, vouchers for haircuts, face painting for a little fun, and free lunches to kids. Speaking of kids, students must be present at the Bash in order for families to receive the free school supplies.
This marks the second year the Back to School Bash will be held inside Baldwin High. Previously, it was held outside at Lakeview Academy where all the booths sat under the bus drop-off/pickup shelter. Stanley said the move indoors has been very positively received.
“We had a lot of great feedback after moving it inside,” she said. “It’s still a little warm when you get 800 people together indoors, but it does not compare to being outside.”
The school district’s parent engagement specialist added that more than 900 people attended last year’s bash, and she hopes to see that number increase so even more families can have access to all the available community resources.