Teachers, dancers and drummers made their way through Tacoma’s Salishan neighborhood Friday morning, leading a fun-filled parade that came with a serious reminder: Summer’s almost over. School starts next week – Wednesday, for most Tacoma kids.
First Creek Middle School seventh-grader Devine Harris was one of the spectators as the Lincoln High School drumline and members of the high-stepping drill team, the Electronetts, made their way down the street in front of his home.
Asked whether he preferred an extension of summer fun or a chance to reunite with friends and return to school, he gave a diplomatic answer: “Kinda both.”
His younger brother, Izajah Swain, said he’s ready for fifth grade at Lister Elementary, and 3-year-old GiSean Swain will join a Head Start class there. He’s excited about his backpack, which features Thomas the Tank Engine.
Getting kids and families fired up about school is what Friday’s event was all about. A coalition of community organizations serving Tacoma’s Eastside and Tacoma Public Schools teamed up for the celebration.
Lynn Hastler and her fellow teachers wore their Team Lister T-shirts in the parade. The first-grade teacher has been at Lister for 17 years, and she’s been teaching 33 years. Her favorite moments come when she’s teaching kids to read.
“I love the Eastside,” she said. “I love the kids’ enthusiasm.”
Blix Elementary kindergarten teacher Jessica Rogers was happy to interrupt a day of teacher meetings and spend her lunch time marching with other Blix teachers. They waved red, white and blue pom-poms.
She said she’s excited to have three full days before the start of school to meet one-on-one with her students and their parents. Kindergarteners in Tacoma won’t start classes until Sept. 9, to give teachers and parents time for the conferences.
Following Friday’s morning parade, the fun continued with a carnival at First Creek. It included free food, entertainment, backpacks filled with school supplies and health screenings for kids.
One of the most popular carnival booths, called Saving Our Soles, offered free shoes, both new and gently used. The Renton-based organization was founded by Yasmine Farrington, who said she woke up one day shortly after graduating from high school and realized she had more shoes than she needed.
First Creek sixth-grader Marcella Fuller got a pair of black Jordans that will come in handy in P.E. class.
Her mom, Jessica Fuller, said she’s pleased with what she’s seen so far at First Creek. She likes that teachers plan to start the sixth-graders off slowly “with as little anxiety as possible.”