Eastern’s Movie Night grows into successful event

Published 8:24 pm Monday, September 11, 2017

Stretch out on a blanket, munch on some popcorn and enjoy the show.

That’s exactly what a crowd of families did Friday night, as Eastern Elementary School kicked off another school year of EES Movie Night at Festival Park.

The Movie Night idea was brought to fruition about a year and a half ago through partnerships within the school’s Bright Futures site council. Bright Futures connects various businesses, organizations and churches together to help meet the basic needs of all students.

EES Movie Night originally kicked off April 2016, and since then, the event has grown into a biannual celebration with multiple parties joining in to help. Eastern Elementary sponsors Movie Night, but families from all schools are welcome to bring a blanket and chairs and watch a family friendly movie on the waterfront.

Friday’s movie of choice was “Moana,” and partners included the City of Washington, Downeast Entertainment, First Christian Church and Vidant Beaufort Hospital.

Jennifer Walker, a teacher at Eastern Elementary and Movie Night organizer, said volunteers with Vidant went above and beyond to help with the event, as did all the partners. Friday night, Vidant employees manned a popcorn booth and set up a luau-inspired face-painting station.

“Jennifer Walker mentioned that usually the teachers would cover the face-painting tent; however, it kept them from enjoying their own families. Instantly, I was like, ‘We can handle that!’” community health nurse Jennifer Lewis recalled. “Vidant Beaufort staff had as much fun face painting as the kids did Friday night.”

Lewis said the hospital is planning more partnership opportunities with Eastern, including a health fair in January.

“We see great value in supporting the students by meeting needs shared by the teachers. In meeting these needs, the teachers are more able to focus on the student’s education,” Lewis said.

Walker has been a part of EES Movie Night from the beginning, and she said it’s exciting to see it turn into such a popular event.

“It’s very exciting because I just remember when it was just talked about in a group of teachers,” she said. “I just happened to mention it to the right person at the right time. … It’s a great way that we’ve decided to start the year off and end the year.”

Walker said the goal of Movie Night is to host something fun and safe, while also involving the community. Although organizers may tweak certain aspects, they’ve largely got it down to a science.

“You see of a lot of the familiar faces and the people are just like, ‘We love this every time,’” Walker said. “Now, it’s like this well-oiled machine that just happens.”

“It’s very humbling to see how it’s turned out,” she added.

The next EES Movie Night is slated for the spring.