School is starting so LET’S HAVE A PARADE

  • CELEBRATE. First Creek Middle School will begin the new school year with a parade and festival, plus stuffed backpacks. Staff working on the fun are, from left to right, Jason Ihde, dean of students; Kim Hildebrandt, assistant principal; Fahren Johnson, Eagle Center director; Jackie Balatbat, counselor; Brad Brown, principal, and Russell Phillips, counselor. (Photo by Kathleen Merryman)

First Creek Middle School will greet the new school year with prizes, presents, performers, physicals and, of course, a parade.

The East Side Families Back To School Parade and Festival will mark the last Friday of summer vacation with the promise of an exciting school year of hard study, good play, exploration and dental health.

The parade of faculty, students, mascots, LeMay classic cars, the Lincoln High School Drum Line, the Electronettes Drill team and East Side local hero JD Davis as Rodney Raccoon, will take off from First Creek at 11 a.m. Aug. 30 and make its way through the neighborhood, leaving a trail of school supply prizes. It will arrive back at the school at 1801 E. 56th St. at 12:30, to kick off a festival that runs until 5 p.m.

“Last year we did it on our own,” said First Creek Principal Brad Brown. “We wanted to try it out, and we thought ‘What a great way to start the year.’”

This year, they enlisted partners including the YMCA, MultiCare, Molina Health Care, Community Health Care’s Milgard Dental Clinic, Tacoma Housing Authority, MDC, Tacoma Community College, PROYECTO Mole and Greater Tacoma Community Foundation.

All those partners will make for a more resource-full, and free, carnival. There will, of course, be game booths, entertainment, a free barbecue and the Taste of First Creek Garden.

Students will be able to get free sports physicals and dental and vision screenings, and their families will find information on how to access health care resources. Because Tacomans love to buy school supplies and stuff backpacks for kids they don’t know, every students will get a backpack, and a readable treat from the book give-away.

The five hours of main stage entertainment will begin with DJ Rocka Romie and include dancers, poets, music, a raffle and introductions to school resources, including the Eagle Center. For the lineup, check

All of this is a clever plan aimed at getting families involved in their children’s school life, and connecting to the services they need to build a happy, healthy home, which builds happy, healthy communities.

Fahren Johnson, YWCA director of First Creek’s Eagle Center explained.

“We’re trying to create a community schools model,” she said. “Our superintendant, Carla Santorno, has put a mandate to be innovative in our engagement of parents and communities. Our school board has made partnerships and engagement with our families our priority this year.”

Each year, the school picks a theme, she said, and this year’s will be “Families.”

The school will invite families in to special events, it will welcome them as volunteers and engage them in programs from stopping bullying to budgeting, cooking healthy meals, learning English and earning a GED.

The more they participate, Johnson said, the easier it will be for their children to soar as students.

It all starts Friday, with a parade.


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