GBF hosts first Back-to-School Party at GBN

GBF hosts first Back-to-School Party at GBN

Marley Hambourger

PARTY PRIDE: Face proudly painted with a Titan lightning bolt, South senior Nishanth Asoka, along with senior Kara Kilpatrick, encourage a Back-to-School Party attendee in precariously balancing a ball across two angled sticks, one of many carnival games at the event. Kilpatrick and Asokan were one of many South and North Peer Group leaders who volunteered to help run the event held at Glenbrook North on Sept.6.

Hope Carrane and Madeline Ruos, staff reporters

In order to bring the Glenview and Northbrook communities together and to raise awareness about their organization, the Glenbrook Foundation (GBF) threw the first annual Back-to-School Party on Sept. 6 at GBN.

The party — which included carnival games, crafts, food trucks, open swimming, a movie and more — attracted nearly 2,000 attendees, according to Kristine Schwandner, GBF Trustee and event organizer. Schwandner stated that during planning she was hopeful that there would be 300 to 400 attendees, so she saw the turnout as a great success.

“It was a successful event,” Schwandner said. “The mood based on that evening was very upbeat, enthusiastic.”

The attendance, Schwandner says, helped the foundation to achieve one of its goals for the party, which was to raise awareness about what the foundation does.

According to the district office, the GBF aims to raise money to enrich and enhance the educational experience of all Glenbrook students. Schwandner explained that the foundation awards six $1,000 scholarships at the end of each year as well as teacher grants throughout the year.

“We also really want to help those families in the community who maybe don’t have the funds to keep up with the different things that the district is requiring,” Schwandner said.

“We were able to pay for all the Chromebooks for families that had no other way of paying for them last year — we did that again this year.”

The success of the party’s second goal, bringing the two schools’ communities together, was harder to judge, according to Schwandner, because organizers weren’t able to tell if attendees were a mixture of people from Glenview and Northbrook. South’s and North’s Peer Group leaders were involved in staffing the event, which was fun-filled, according to Nate Clough, South Peer Group leader.

“Everybody     brought in a lot of energy,” Clough said. “All the Peer Group leaders were having fun. All of the kids were just having a good time overall.”

Additionally, Peer Group leaders say they enjoyed assisting the younger children having fun in games and activities, which ranged from Bozo Buckets to face painting. Cat Frey, Peer Group leader, helped out at the Bozo Bucket station.

“There were a lot of little kids there, and they really enjoyed Bozo Buckets, and they were all really cute,” Frey said. “Some of them were just completely off […] and had no sense of hand-eye coordination, but some of them did really well and they kept coming back in line.”

Mary McCarthy had two kids at the event — one a North Peer Group leader and the other an 11 year-old. She felt that they all enjoyed the event.

“I thought all the games were great, the pool was a big hit [and] the food trucks were great — I thought that was a great idea,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think I would change anything.”

Even though Schwanderer was happy with the overall turnout, the event ended up attracting younger attendees, in spite of attempts to brand it as a community event.

“In our minds it was an ‘everybody invited’ type thing,” Schwandner said. “It wasn’t communicated as well that we wanted the high school students to come and be guests at the party, not just to run it.”

In an Oracle survey of 300 South students, 71 percent said they did not attend, and 53 percent of those respondents said they did not attend because they were unaware of  the event. Peer Group leader Rachel Spector found the advertisement at South lacking.

“I heard about it from Peer Group training,” Spector said. “Signs were all over GBN — in the hallways and everywhere there. At GBS I [didn’t see] any signs at all.”

Dr. James Shellard, South’s assistant principal in charge of student activities, felt the Northbrook location might have deterred some in Glenview and that holding next year’s event at South, which is the foundation’s plan, might increase turnout.

“My sense is that sometimes people in Glenview don’t want to go to Northbrook…so sometimes I think the host community will get the benefit of better attendance because it’s the home school,” Shellard said.

For attendees, though, one of the few disappointments expressed was that the event could have lasted longer and that the swimming pool, specifically, could have stayed open longer. Schwandner agreed and felt the event was such a success that maybe it should stay open to a later time in the future.

“We have had a lot of people say, ‘Boy, I wish I could have stayed longer,’ but looking forward I would say we might want to investigate keeping things open all the time,” Schwandner said.

The students of the Journalistic Writing course contributed to this report.