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Farmville celebrates first School-a-Palooza

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By ANGELA HARNE
The Farmville Enterprise

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Farmville’s four public schools will spotlight what makes them special today during their first School-a-Palooza block party held in conjunction with the Dogwood Festival.

Tagged as a Dogwood Festival tailgate, the event runs from 4-7 p.m. along school campuses on Grimmersburg Street. It will feature 32 activities, including face painting, ring toss, cornhole, bounce houses, a photo booth, can jam (which is a game attempting to land a frisbee in a can), hayrides, a petting zoo and more.

The East Carolina University color guard will be on-site and John Moore’s Sock Hop will provide music. The Farmville Public Library is hosting a booth for children to sign up for a library card for summer reading, and child nutrition and social services also will have booths. The Jolly Trolley will provide shuttle service to festival activities and rides at the town common.

Allison Setser, the principal of H.B. Sugg and Sam D. Bundy elementary schools, initiated the event along with Betsy Flanagan, a mother of students at Bundy and Farmville Middle School. Flanagan took on the project through the Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County. It grew to include the Farmville Central High School as well.

“We were looking for a way to increase community awareness and engagement with our schools,” Farmville Central Principal Brad Johnson said. “We have a unique school layout that is not duplicated in Pitt County or really anywhere in the east. We have kindergarten through 12th grade on one contiguous campus. As one town commissioner said, ‘You can drop them off in kindergarten and pick them up when they graduate.’ We want to capitalize on our community school environment because it is unique in Pitt County. Folks who haven't visited our schools and community don't know what they are missing.”

Setser added, “What makes us special and unique is that we are true community schools with community backing all on School Avenue. The School-a-Palooza is a way to attract new parents and retain our parents. We also want to show our pride. Our hashtag is #WorthTheDrive. Teaching here is worth the drive. We want to showcase what our community is all about.”

Johnson said the increase in charter schools and an abundance of private school options in the area motivated organizers. “This is an opportunity for people from all over the community to come see what our schools have to offer, what makes them special,” he said. “You have to see it and experience it to really understand just how special our community really is, and what better time than in conjunction with the Dogwood Festival, which showcases our town to people from all over the area.” 

Fourteen businesses donated $2,600 to the event. An additional $1,000 was donated through Farmville Central’s Title I involvement fund, which allocates money for parent involvement activities. Flanagan and Eulalia Williams, another member of the Parents for Public Schools program, were instrumental in the palooza’s planning process.

“Come and have fun,” Flanagan said. “Meet our teachers. Enjoy our free activities and then take the shuttle to the Dogwood Festival for dinner and amusement rides.”

The first 400 parents to enter the School-a-Palooza will receive free books and a coupon for a free Kona Ice product. The free Jolly Trolley shuttle to the festival will run from 6-9 p.m. Parking will be at Farmville Central High School. Grimmersburg Road will be closed.

Dogwood Festival

The Farmville Dogwood Festival opens at 11 a.m. today with food offerings from the Farmville Fire Department’s concession stand on the town common. Sales continue through 9 p.m. Amusement rides are open 4-11 p.m. Wristbands may be purchased for $16 in advance at town hall or at the festival for $20.

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