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Event gives community chance to gather — and get ready for school

By Bryan Richardson

Children had a chance to celebrate the last weekend of their summer Saturday at the annual Back-to-School Bash at the Douglass Community Recreation Center.

Jeffrey Floresklemick, who attended the event with his wife, Magaly, and their five children, said the event brought the community together.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “It brings the community together.”

Among the activities was a spoon race that his daughter, Abby, participated in. (The racers carried a ping pong ball rather than an egg.)

“Don’t drop it, Abby. Don’t drop it,” her brother, Jonathan, said as she raced to the finish line.

Dave Baker, Douglass Center director, said the event started last year as a way to meet some of the needs of the community through handing out school supplies.

Baker said he also wanted a way to let people know the center can provide a free place for children to hang out.

“It’s about giving back to the community and how something fun to do,” he said. “That’s what a community center is all about.”

Baker said he was appreciative of the help the center received from various businesses and organizations to put on the event.

“One of the beautiful things about the Douglass Center is people feel a community recreation center is important,” he said.

The center’s goal was to help students get back to school on the right path with a bag filled with supplies for up to 150 students.

“We put basic stuff that any student can use from the third grade to the ninth grade,” Baker said.

The bags included notebook, folder, pencils, pencil sharpener, ruler, pedometer, and a toothbrush and toothpaste.

“If we give away 150 bags, I’d be really pleased because that’s 150 kids who really needed it,” Baker said.

As a father, Marc Brown said he appreciated what the center provided at the event.

“Some of the families, like myself, can’t afford school supplies,” he said. “It gets us off to a good start.”

Marc brought two of his sons, Marc Jr. and Brenden, and his nephew, Xaiver, with him.

The boys had various levels of excitement about the start of school Tuesday.

Brenden expressed the most excitement about going back to school for his first year at Eisenhower Middle School.

“I’m not going to be in elementary school anymore,” he said.

Brenden will be with his cousin, Xaiver, at Eisenhower.

Xaiver placed his excitement level at “sort of.”

“He’s into sports more than school work,” Marc said of Xaiver, a football, basketball and baseball player who also runs track.

Marc Jr. shrugged his shoulders, not really sure how to feel about starting at Manhattan High.

“He’s nervous because he’s starting high school,” his dad said.

“It’s different,” Marc Jr. said.

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