'Gopher Gathering' draws families, school together
Maddasin DuBois attended her first Gophers Open House Thursday. Though she had never thought much about these events, this year seemed different.
“My teachers kept talking about it,” said the new sixth-grader.
Her cousin, Alaina Rowe, went to see “my friends,” she said. They ate from one of the four food trucks, visited school booths, watched kids try to nail the target for a dunk tank and hung out at the Middle-Senior High School on Big Tree Road, Pavilion. Crystal DuBois, who is mom to both girls, said it was a first time for them. In the past, the girls hadn’t shown any interest, she said. But this year they all went and learned a thing or two.
“They have clubs and programs I didn’t know about, and maybe I can get them interested,” Crystal said.
The Gopher Gathering is Pavilion’s third annual open house, English teacher Rachel Kress said. Food trucks, games, informal meetings with teachers and Board of Education members, visiting a petting zoo hosted by Future Farmers of America and other activities filled the late afternoon until 7 p.m.
Ninth-grader Erin Andrews was one of several student volunteers to help out with the event. Erin had a face painting station set up for sparkle-adorned designs and temporary tattoos.
Sabrina Sanner, a newly hired music teacher, had never been to prior events and said it was a good idea. School districts often have events that bring families into the school classrooms for more formal types of interactions, she said. Pavilion's was out on the lawns, lined with tables, activities and information.
“I think it’s nice, it’s a better way to do an open house,” the 24-year-old said.
Next to her at the table was Eric Weaver, an art teacher. After all summer, this was "kind of like a reunion," he said.
“I think it’s a way for the community to get together,” he said. “This is kind of the first opportunity we’ve had to get together … and parents turn into supportive parents for their child’s education.”
He held up sign-up sheets with several student names on them indicating interest in art class. Aside from the general theme of meeting one another, there was another one: wearing the school colors of purple and gold.
Groups of students sat talking on a nearby curb while others took turns trying to dunk Assistant Principal Charles Martelle in a tank of cold water. The school’s resource officer was on hand to talk to families and take photos for the bulletin board. Genesee County Sheriff’s deputies were there as well, in addition to about 75 faculty and staff, said Deb Barie, director of pupil personnel services.
“I think it’s a great way to have the whole family involved in the school,” she said. “They’re getting to know the teachers in a comfortable, safe setting. (Parents) can enjoy a night out with the kids. The student volunteers are showing off their extracurriculars to show what they do during the school day and outside of school.”
Top Photo: Pavilion Middle-High School students relax with some treats from food trucks during the annual Gopher Gathering at the school on Big Tree Road; Erin Andrews decorates a tattoo on first-grader Caroline Mead's hand; school faculty Eric Weaver and Sabrina Sanner share their passions for art and music, respectively, during the event Thursday; students take turns whipping the yellow ball at a dunk tank target in hopes of dropping Assistant Principal Charles Martelle into the water (some were successful); and photo above, school secretary Coreena Green, substitute teacher Jonathan Holland and Deb Barie, director of Pupil Personnel Services, meet families and hand out informational flyers. Photos by Joanne Beck.