Hundreds of Families, Picnic Blankets Fill School Lawns
Nov 12, 2015 01:44PM, Published by Julie Slama, Categories: Local Life
By Julie Slama
Putting an emphasis on the beginning of the school year is why former principal Connie Buckner introduced a school picnic around 2007 at Grant Elementary.
“I wanted to celebrate the start of the school year and have it be a positive experience,” she said. “So often you see them at the end of the year, but I wanted everyone to be excited that the new year was beginning.”
In 2010, Buckner became principal at McMillan and brought the beginning of the year picnic with her.
“Because I like what we were doing at Grant, I decided to start the tradition at McMillan,” she said.
These fun, annual picnics have continued at the two Murray School District elementaries.
At Grant Elementary, about 100 families joined students, bringing picnics and spreading their blankets on the school grounds Sept. 4.
“It’s a chance for parents to be part of what goes on with their students’ school day,” Principal Matt Nelson said. “I go out there and see everyone reconnecting. I follow up with new parents to make sure things are going OK with them, eat some Little Caesars pizza and have fun.”
Nelson said that although there aren’t any structured activities or games, it is a community-building experience.
“I see new families introducing themselves, getting to know established parents. It’s all pretty casual, but with 33 percent of our students being from out of district, it’s important that we give this chance at the beginning of the school year,” he said.
Secretary Jamie Bailey said it’s something students look forward to.
“It’s become such a tradition that students look forward to welcome back week and having the picnic lunch with their friends and family,” she said.
At McMillan, about 250 families came to the school picnic, Principal Joy Sanford said.
Students and their families can choose from eating a school-provided bologna and cheese sandwich, a hamburger cooked on the grill or bringing their own picnic, teacher Ann Saltzman said.
“Our PTA is fantastic, and events like today is a great success in bringing the McMillan community together,” she said. “Plus, the barbecue burgers are really good.”
Both schools enroll about 400 students.