Kicking off the upcoming school year, Fort Huachuca and local area schools and organizations presented the 2014 Back to School Fair at General Myer Elementary School July 17. The event was open to those who live on and off post.
More than 30 organizations participated with booths, displays and presentations to educate parents and children about school registration, extracurricular activities, sports, special needs services, tutoring, and more. According to Erin Schnitger, School Liaison Officer, Fort Huachuca, more than 700 people attended the event.
Schnitger explained that the overall purpose of the event was to provide education about all the great advantages that the community has and getting Families more involved in their children’s education.
“We wanted to bring those who live both outside and inside the gate together, under one roof, and say ‘We have resources for your Family everywhere.’ It’s really important for people to know that,” Schnitger said. “It breaks down the fact that we are all one community and we are all servicing the same people. Everybody deserves those same resources.”
Each organization present was required to accommodate one of the following categories: Education; Enrichment, Extracurricular and Clubs; Health; Sports and Fitness; or Special Needs.
“The fair was meant to be a community collaboration of the entities that support youth, schools, education, and wellness,” Schnitger said. “We’re trying to really shift everything back to supporting the ‘whole’ child, as opposed to separating school life, Family life and community.”
Fort Huachuca Accommodation School principals were present at the fair, providing information about the schools and answering questions about the upcoming school year. It was an ideal opportunity for Families to meet the two new principles that join the education team this year – Mark McIlrath, Colonel Johnston Elementary, and Valerie Quarto, General Myer Elementary.
Many health and wellness organizations provided demonstrations such as how lungs work within the body, how to properly brush your teeth, optometry exams and nutritional information.
Rosa Peralta, the Army Substance Abuse Program representative, said, “It was a great opportunity for ASAP to reach out to so many parents, raise awareness about alcohol and drug abuse, and offer them support and information to keep their kids healthy.”
Outside the gym, attendees visited with agencies and organizations which provided a variety of safety information. Fort Huachuca Fire Department had the safety smoke house on site to teach children what to do in the case of a fire and military police checked vehicles for correct installation of car seats.
In addition to learning about the various organizations, attendees also had the opportunity to receive their required immunizations and make appointments for the upcoming school year. A free gently-used clothing store was also available.
Attendees had the chance to enter a drawing to win a backpack filled with grade-specific school supplies such as crayons, markers, folders, paper, calculators, water bottles and lunch boxes. The winners were: Abby Morley, 6, for the elementary backpack; Lia Nelson, 12, for the middle school backpack; and Jacob Staggs, 14, for the high school backpack.
With such a great turnout, Schnitger said she hopes to repeat the event next year. “I want to build upon this event each year that I am lucky enough to hold my position as the Fort Huachuca School Liaison Officer,” she said. “It means the world to me to have such an excellent community support system for our Families.”