SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The start of the school year is upon us. It has community members in Lackawanna County preparing kids to hit the books.

A special event was held in Scranton Tuesday night to give students everything they need to succeed this school year while having some fun, too.

Scranton High cheerleaders pepped up a large crowd at Connors Park. The performance was part of a back-to-school block party hosted by the Scranton Federation of Teachers.

“We are trying to encourage our community to come together and support our students, support our schools, and come back to our schools in Scranton,” said Rosemary Boland, President of the Scranton Federation of Teachers.

Free books and mesh backpacks filled with supplies were handed out to students and their families.
But that’s not all.

Face painting, food, haircuts, a mobile vaccination unit, and tons of giveaways were part of it. Community Partners like the Scranton Fire Department came out to show their support.

“We started this event last year while we were on strike. We wanted the children to know, our families to know that we were ready and excited to go back to school and this year is no different,” said Kathleen Beckwith, a 6th-grade teacher at South Scranton Intermediate and SFT member.

Sharing the excitement is 5-year-old Lucy Gavern. She came to the event with her grandmother before starting kindergarten at John G. Whittier Elementary.

“My favorite part was seeing my kindergarten teacher and my kindergarten friends,” said Lucy Gavern, a soon-to-be Kindergartener at John G. Whittier Elementary School.

“This is really nice. You can get together with the parents, see the teachers who are doing so much for the kids, and I think it’s really great. I wish they would do it a couple of times a year,” said Alice Tracy, Lucy’s grandmother.

Many parents tell Eyewitness News they’re especially grateful for the help with school supplies amid inflation.

“By doing that, every child starts on an even plain with everybody else. They all start on the same page, so they have a much better chance for success,” added Christine Walker, a 6th-grade teacher at South Scranton Intermediate and SFT member.

Scranton Federation of Teachers is a labor union that represents teachers and paraprofessionals. Students in the Scranton School District return to school on September 8.