Summer is winding down for many students and teachers. Soon, school open houses will welcome everyone back. But the Joplin School District hosted a different type of open house, and it involved shopping.
It was held at the school district's Memorial Education Center, and was an easy way to bring people together to calm some pre-school year jitters.
12-year-old Katherin Mencia from Honduras uses a translator to describe some universal feelings.
The translator says, "She is very nervous!"
Mencia has lived in the U.S. for the past two years. But this upcoming school year, she's going from elementary to middle school.
"It's going to be a new school, and she doesn't know anybody at the new school she's going to," says the translator.
Shally Lundien, principal of Columbia Elementary School, says, "Everybody feels the same way!"
Lundien has been a principal in the Joplin School District for seven years.
"They want to know what other friends are going to be in their classes, what the curriculum is going to be like, what their teachers are going to be like," says Lundien.
All around Lundien and Mencia were booths with area vendors selling clothes and other products. There were also important connections being established.
"She met a teacher," says Mencia's translator. "She told me (Mencia) that I was going to be welcome over there, and they were going to treat me really nice and that they have really good teachers at the middle school."
"The biggest tip I have for parents is to get involved and work with the school and their children's teacher," says Lundien.
Shopping ended up directing Joplin School District students, parents, and staff together for priceless new friendships.
"We, as a district, have all these different buildings," says Dorothy Alsenz with the Joplin School District. "We have 11 elementary schools, we have three middle schools, and we have the high school."
...No matter who speaks what language within those schools...
"We want them to know all the help they can get, while they need it," says Karina Wright, Mencia's translator. "We explain to them when you need help, it's there for you. When you don't need the help, it's good to give back and help the community, as well."
The return policy from this shopping event? Get back to school when it starts in only a few weeks.
The Joplin school year starts for students on August 17th.
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