A night of fun

G.T. Norman holds first Family Night for the school year

REED CITY — Angel Lesley, a fourth-grader at G.T. Norman Elementary, quickly read off each of her answers to several hands of cards dealt to her.

Angel, along with her brother, Abel, and fellow schoolmate Mackenzie Brackett, anxiously played a multiplication game with the playing cards, with assistant principal Rob Nista, the dealer.

“I had a lot of fun,” Angel said, as the different games and activity stations were getting closed up at the conclusion of the school’s first Family Night of the school year.

“The games were fun and I really liked the cards with Mr. Nista.”

For the last eight years, the school has organized Family Nights throughout the school year, with staff and volunteers coming in to provide a night specifically designed for students and their families, said principal Deanna Goodman.

“We started Family Night and everyone really had a good time and enjoyed it,” she said. “It’s a chance for our families to come in and spend time together. We offer them a free dinner and they get to enjoy the night as a family.”

On a mat with Lincoln Logs, Eric Skutt was busy building a house under the close eye of his father, Robert.

“I think it’s going well. Everyone seems to be having fun,” Robert said, as he was trying to encourage Eric and his siblings to get ready to go.

Having attended past Family Night events, Skutt said the kids really enjoy coming to the school to play with their friends and do the different activities.

“The kids get to have all the fun they want, and it lets them get their energy out,” Robert said.

Held four times throughout the school year, Family Night couldn’t happen without local businesses that donate prizes and gifts for students and parents, Goodman said, noting the school received a grant from the General Mills Foundation, which makes it possible for them to keep the event going.

“Our community is very involved and supportive of the school-aged kids,” she said, adding child receives a free book when they attend the event. “We feel literacy is really important and the kids enjoy getting a free book to take home with them.”

The first Family Night of the school year also provided an opportunity for students and families to get a flu shot, Goodman said.

“We have a theme for each one and this one was about health,” the principal said. “The flu clinic is free to the community. Spectrum Health has really stepped up to do that, and that’s something we’re happy we can offer to families.”

The other themed family nights will lead up to the final one next spring, which will be all about the community, Goodman said.

“We have students from Ferris State and the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District who come in and they think of activities for the students and families,” she said. “There’s something for everyone to enjoy. We’ll have a lot of activities like blow-up bounce houses and things like that.”

To conclude her evening, Angel took a couple of minutes to look through the books before picking one.

“I had a lot of fun,” she said. “I even liked the flu shot.”

When asked if she really liked it, Angel smiled and nodded.