Eastern Elementary hosts ‘A Night Under the Stars’

Published 7:28 pm Friday, April 15, 2016

Families have the opportunity to enjoy a peaceful evening on Monday, relaxing by the waterfront and spending time together, thanks to Eastern Elementary School’s “A Night Under the Stars.”

The event is for all families, not just those with Eastern Elementary students, and is an effort to get people together outside of the school setting, according to Jennifer Walker, a teacher at Eastern Elementary and main organizer.

Walker said she came up with the idea the night before her first meeting on the school’s Bright Futures site council and pitched it the next day. With the support of Bright Futures and Pam Shadle, from Vidant Beaufort Hospital, Walker was able to set the plan in motion.

“(Shadle) was like, ‘Let’s do it, Jennifer. Let’s go with it,’” Walker said. “We all as a whole wanted something fun for the families to come to.”

Although the task appeared daunting, community supporters quickly hopped on board, she said.

Walker was able to obtain a movie license to show “Finding Nemo,” as well as a projector screen, speakers and volunteers for family-oriented activities, such as dancing, hula hooping and games. Partners from Washington Harbor District Alliance and the City of Washington, to Tumble B Gym and Downeast Entertainment, all stepped up to contribute.

“It almost gave me goosebumps,” Walker said of the support. “Everyone pitched in and everyone wanted to be a part of it.”

She said she hopes “A Night Under the Stars” will show parents some of the positive things happening at the school, and she plans to turn it into an annual event if all goes well.

“We have the partnerships with businesses and churches and nonprofits that can work together to make events like this happen,” said Robin McKeithan, Bright Futures coordinator. “We feel like this happened because of a Bright Futures partnership.”

Shadle, manager of marketing and public relations at Vidant Beaufort, said the hospital feels honored to be able to collaborate on the event.

The hospital already has a relationship with Eastern Elementary, and Shadle said she thinks it was a good cause to support, as it focuses on family.

“Just really proud to partner with them,” she said. “I think Jennifer Walker had a fantastic idea.”

Walker said she wants people to recognize the night as a family event, and they are asking parents to not drop off their child unattended. Organizers have also planned to have plenty of volunteers on hand to supervise and make sure everyone is safe, she said.

“A lot of the kids have been buzzing about it. … I overheard a group of women talk about it, and I was just overwhelmed,” Walker said. “I’m excited about the atmosphere that I’m envisioning there.”

“A Night Under the Stars” will take place Monday, April 18, at Festival Park on the Washington waterfront. The event starts at 6 p.m., and the movie will begin at 7:30 p.m. Families are invited to bring chairs, blankets and picnic dinners. Rain date is scheduled for Tuesday.