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Exceptional Event

Opening-Day Parade


On the first day of school at Gonic Elementary School in Rochester, New Hampshire, students and parents mingle on the playgrounds. They gather under signs held by student council members; each sign has a teacher's name and grade printed on it. "We end up having quite a parade," said principal Martha Wingate. "We gather the lines and proceed to our multi-purpose room for a short welcoming assembly." Parents and friends run around with cameras snapping pictures.

A parade is also the centerpiece of opening day at North Bennington Graded School in North Bennington, Vermont. Children begin their first day by making banners with their classmates and parents. Then they march together in a parade through town that is led by a marching band. The festivities conclude with a picnic under pitched tents in the center of town. Parents and community members bring packed lunches.

"I think it is an incredible, wonderful event," said principal Ernie Lafontaine. The vast majority of parents attend the festivities -- about 80 to 90 percent -- Lafontaine estimates. Although the small town enjoys strong parent support, the First Day of School America holiday has also increased the number of volunteers from the community. "I think it really is the last link to bond the community and the school together," Lafontaine told Education World. It is also a great way to introduce new families to the community, he added.