Special memories that will last a lifetime were created tonight as close to 400 students and parents attended the “Healthy New Year” celebration at Bester Elementary. The Bester Wellness Committee comprised of school teachers and Bester Community of Hope partnered to create a unique dance event celebrating strong families and healthy resolutions. Teachers worked together and the gymnasium and cafeteria was transformed into a winter wonderland with lights and music, and children and their parents wore the best attire for a special night out.
There was also a table where students filled out healthy resolution cards to hang on a tree at school, which allowed for conversations with their family about their goals for 2018. Jamal wrote, “Turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts” while another young person wrote,” Eat less junk and work out!” Ornella and her mom committed to “Schedule a date night at least once a month” and Kylee echoed those thoughts saying we need to, “Eat as a family three times a week.” A selfie station nearby allowed families to take pictures together with decorative backgrounds and capture the moment together while celebrating their time together.
Bester Community of Hope volunteers waited on families at their tables with a variety of healthy snack options including grapes, strawberries and cheese. Volunteer Liz Oden explained, “These children are our future, if we can be just a little part of encouraging them and putting a smile on their face it’s a good day.” First grade teacher Ms. Carosella explained, “I see all my former students and they are all dressed up with their parents. Some of the parents I see here I wasn’t able to meet in the past because of different work commitments. It’s so nice to meet them and tell them your child is doing a great job.” As she finished her story an old student rushed into her arms, “Yeshua!”, and after a family photo she was off to the dance floor with him. A father was with his child and explained, “I’ve been up since 3 a.m. and it took me three hours to get here from work near the Bay Bridge to get here in time, but I wasn’t going to miss it.”
Guidance counselor Linda Silver commented, “I appreciated and loved seeing so many parents as they helped to celebrate their children. Both the students and parents alike were so dressed up and enjoyed themselves a great deal!” The dance floor was packed the entire evening, as kids, teachers and parents danced together, a stark change to their typical daytime interactions, even forming an extended conga line. Bester Assistant Principal Donald Ansel beamed at the end of the night sharing, “I’m very proud of our school, students and staff. This is what this community and school is all about.” At the end of the evening, all attendees gathered in the center of the dance floor and counted down to a symbolic new year one more time, and committed to new beginnings and promises for a brighter tomorrow with their family by their side.
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The Walking School Bus officially wrapped its first year of programming for Bester Elementary students who walk to school. During the 2016-2017 school year a variety of community partners came together monthly to join children and families on their journey to Bester. Congressman John Delaney and his team made a special visit to the G&G Grill meeting location today and had breakfast with children and families.
A couple months ago, Bester student Ornella Provard was at a public forum with her mother Kay Papeskov and asked Congressman Delaney “Will you walk to school with me?” He followed up and scheduled a time to join all of Bester’s students during their journey and made sure all participants received a special commemorative coin from the U.S. House of Representatives to go along with their juice box and Teddy Grahams. Today students arrived at various meeting locations and filled out a Bester paw print to describe their favorite thing about going to school. They also wrote words of encouragement on large posters for graduating South Hagerstown High School seniors set to visit Bester for their annual senior walk on May 31st.
As the group was leaving the Triple Coin Laundromat meeting location, a first grade girl sprinted to catch up the group and said, “Thanks for waiting for me! I never want to miss this!” Kids were joined by other special guests including Congregation B’nai Abraham Rabbi Ari Plost, Health Department officials, and members of the local fire department and EMT’s, some of which who were beginning the first hour of a 24 hour shift. Young children were enamored with the fire truck at Frederick Manor, while 5th graders who filled out positive statements about Bester struggled with the idea of leaving to go to middle school next year. “What’s your favorite thing about Bester?” an EMT asked a child at Memorial Park. “Mrs. Henline,” the two children at Memorial Park responded about their teacher, “She makes class fun by playing games and she’s really nice.” As all four groups arrived at Bester a row of community partners cheered and celebrated as children ran into the school entrance getting hi-fives, a great start to the school day!
Bester Elementary’s Walking School Bus is a monthly parent-led effort focused on attendance and social connections, supported by community partners including the Bester Community of Hope. We hope to continue to support this effort in the 2017-2018 school year; interested in participating or have great ideas for a fun theme? Let us know at 240-513-6370 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Join us!