It has been three years since Great Salt Bay Community School has held its traditional welcome back dinner and open house for students, families, teachers, and staff. On Sept. 15 the doors were flung open once again and people poured into the school!
The GSB Parent Teacher Organization has hosted the event for decades, usually within the first few weeks of the school year. It is the kind of event that distinguishes GSB as a “community school,” creating connections, relationships and camaraderie. Like so many other traditions, the COVID-19 pandemic put large gatherings like this on hold for the past two years.
The PTO and school administration decided this summer that the welcome back dinner and open house could be held safely, and planning began! A budget was approved by the PTO and expectations were set around about 400 people attending. Jenna Hanna, a GSB parent and professional events planner, volunteered her services to coordinate the dinner.
“I love planning events like this! The biggest reward is seeing smiles on the faces of people as they enjoy good food and reconnect with other folks in the community!” Hanna said.
The event was a huge success. Hamburgers and hot dogs were served along with an amazing variety of sides and desserts generously donated by community members. Volunteers signed up in advance but also sprang up from the crowd to cover grilling, supervision of an impromptu kickball game and cleanup!
The dinner was followed by the K-5 open house, also the first in three years. The teachers welcomed families into their classrooms between 6-7 p.m. and chatted about their students and academic plans for the year. It was a delight to see parents and guardians meeting with teachers and seeing their children’s classrooms. The halls were buzzing and the excitement was contagious.
“The food was really good and it was fun seeing the kids in my new class,” said Ellie Thomas a student in sixth grade at GSB.
Toward the end of the evening, Hanna announced the lucky winners of gift baskets and gift cards to local businesses. Gradually, the cars lining the road and filling the parking lots left, the grills were cleaned and loaded, and the doors were closed. Until next year GSB!