Hundreds of Columbia County students returned to school on Saturday, three days before the school year officially began.
Eliza Jane Sessions, from left, Sarah Kate Chambley, Amnor Markwalter, and Haley Almodovan wait for their cue to go on stage during the fashion show at Columbia Countys Back to School Festival.
Photo by David Degner
The area youths showed up for Saturday's Columbia County Back to School Festival at Evans High School.
C.J. Herrin, who had waited all summer for the county's first day of school, said he didn't mind heading back a few days early.
"I can't wait to get back to school and back to math class," said the 8-year-old Euchee Creek Elementary third grader.
About 1,000 of the county's students and parents showed up to learn more about the school system at the fifth annual festival.
"I am new to the area, so I wanted to come out and find out about the school system my child will be attending," said Amory Parker. "It was great to learn about the schools and also the extracurricular activities like the Boy Scouts that my son could join."
The Boys Scouts of America's booth was just one of 52 lining the floor of the Evans High commons area. The booths ranged from health screenings to club activities to bus safety to toys.
The event also featured performances, including a fashion show and a Tae Kwon Do demonstration. In the parking lot, an in-line skating demonstration was held.
The county's Board of Education and event sponsor University Hospital provided booths aimed at showing youths different career paths. The Columbia County Sheriff's Office also joined in. Then there was the Edward Jones Investment Group, which had a booth to help parents look at the cost of college.
"One of the things we got out of last year's festival was feedback from the parents saying that they wanted more information on high schools," said Karen Ribble, special projects coordinator for the Columbia County School System. "We wanted to provide career-oriented information and career guidance representatives from each school."
Kayla Gilmer, 5, untangles her balloon string as Deborah Connell of the Columbia County Schools Transportation Department helps Kaitlyn Gilmer climb the stairs after a tour of the new air conditioned buses at the festival Saturday.
Photo by David Degner
Those attending also perused extracurricular activities highlighted at booths during the event. The Marshall Family Y, Augusta Rowing Club, Gymnastics Gold, Evans School of Ballet, Girl Scouts, the county's 4-H Club and Terry Newton's Tae Kwon Do were represented.
"Just getting a chance to look at all of the options that are out there was great for me and my son," Parker said. "Extracurricular activities are important, and it is good to see the school system promoting them."
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