It is a very sad thing when a nearly 160-year-old tradition dies. The end of the Belleville Elementary District 118 parade and picnic takes with it scores of memories of homemade class banners, cotton candy, ride nausea, the promise of summer break, friends sharing stuffed animal prizes, scary carnies, grandparents slipping you extra ride tickets and frying burgers with your child’s teacher.
Our community mourns its loss.
Yet we realize those “old Belleville” images are not resonating with current students and parents. Dropping to a 60 percent participation rate, or a districtwide event making as much as a single school’s cookie dough sales, are clear signals that something has changed.
So the challenge is to creatively fill the gap. How do you bring families, students and educators together in a fun, informal setting so those connections can be made that build a school community and ultimately boost a child’s education? If that new event makes a little money for new playground equipment or field trips, all the better.
Roosevelt’s family camp-out or Spooktacular? Fall festivals? Family fitness Olympics? Winter carnival? Pedal for the PTA?
Belleville District 118 has 11 schools, so there are 11 chances to find fun solutions that will build parent participation and allow youngsters to see educators in a different light, possibly discovering during family camp-out that Miss Othmar snores or that the scary older kid jumps in to fix your flat bike tire.
Belleville will miss the parade and picnic, but we hope the memories multiply as the events diversify.