Southern Local bash draws a crowd

Submitted photo Southern Local first-grader Ariana Woodburn climbs through an inflatable obstacle course during the district’s eighth annual Back to School Bash.

SALINEVILLE — The summer heat didn’t deter hundreds of people from turning out for the eighth annual Southern Local Back to School Bash on Aug. 19.

Students and their families gathered on the campus where more than two-dozen vendors doled out information, food, music, giveaways and other items to welcome kids back for another school year. District Special Education Coordinator Laura Krulik organized the event and said students familiarized themselves with their surroundings as Southern Local High School Assistant Principal Ron Sines led a seventh-grade orientation and class schedules were distributed in the office, while SLES conducted an open house and pupils brought in supplies prior to the first day of school.

“I think we had a really good turnout from community and family members,” she said. “We did some restructuring and had extra reading books available for free and people took advantage of that. It was the first time for [Mercy Health’s Kikel Dental Clinic van] and Ohio State University offered information on nutrition, plus EVE Music Studio of Wellsville offered free lessons.”

Businesses, churches, agencies and organizations dotted the grounds and included school sports teams, the SLES PTO, school teachers and staff with free school supplies and hygiene products, Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency, Family and Children First Council, the Columbiana County Department of Job and Family Services, HeadStart, Help Me Grow, Family Recovery Center, Salineville Assembly of God, The RedZone and an A. C. Gilbert Toy Co. antique vehicle, among others. Attendants also enjoyed inflatable rides from Movin & Groovin Productions of Toronto, music from DJ Chelsea Householder and treats such as hot dogs, Snow Cones and popcorn, plus fall athletes were spotlighted during a Meet the Team event in the high school gym. Krulik said about 800 book bags were available for distribution and those who didn’t attend the bash could still receive one in the school offices. She added that students also had a chance to address address any schedule changes and meet teachers and administrators.

“This was an opportunity for a connection between the staff and community so we could work out any issues before the school year starts,” she commented. Superintendent Tom Cunningham was looking forward to an exciting school year ahead with new high school Principal Jay Kiger, SLES Principal Rich Wright and Assistant Principal Emily Brinker and Utica Shale Academy Director Bill Watson at the helm, in addition to growth among kindergarten enrollment.

“I think kindergarten numbers are up to 258 and we had to add a third kindergarten teacher, so it’s a positive,” Cunningham quipped. “I am very excited and I think it’s going to be a good year.”

School officially starts for grades 1-12 today with the first day of kindergarten set for Aug. 27 and preschool classes beginning Aug. 28.