COLUMBIA — Every parent knows that raising a child can be expensive. This becomes especially true when it’s back-to-school shopping season, which is why events offering free resources to K-12 students are a big hit with parents.
“It helps parents with the cost of everything,” Casey Kraus said. Her son Jamison is entering fourth grade at Shepherd Boulevard Elementary School. “I’m still going to have to buy a few things, but it’s nice.”
Hundreds of people attended an event called Back to School Bash, which was held to give out free school supplies, haircuts and dental checkups Monday night at Derby Ridge Elementary School. This was the first time such a back-to-school event had been held at Columbia Public Schools.
The goal was to support families, said Battle High School vice-principal Melita Walker.
The event was originally intended for elementary and middle school students who will eventually attend Battle High School, but has grown to include the entire school district, Walker said.
“It’s for any family that needs a backpack,” she said.
Families lined the halls of Derby Ridge on Monday evening, about a week before the start of the new school year. The hallways were filled with loud, excited chatter as children and parents lined up to receive haircuts, dental checkups and essential back-to-school supplies.
The backpacks, however, were reserved for primary students because secondary students were provided with keyboards and Bluetooth headphones. High school students in the district are required to use iPads in the classroom, so electronic supplies are necessary at this level of education. There were 456 backpacks, 200 keyboards and 200 pairs of headphones to hand out, Walker said.
Other services were for not just students, but also their families, Walker said. Parents and other family members were able to benefit from haircuts and dental examinations. More than 25 hairdressers donated their services. The dentists at the Family Dental Center also donated their time.
For the kids at the event, the excitement centered around the large inflatables located on the playground. The kids played with inflatable basketballs, wrecking balls and other toys.
Shela Warren said her children were thrilled to attend the event, but became even more excited when they saw the bouncy houses. Her children Jada, Jaliyah and Deonte are students at Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary School.
Walker said she hopes the event will continue.
School starts for Columbia Public Schools on August 16 and for Kindergarten on August 18.