Giving Roots at Prices Fork Elementary is a program that introduces pre-school and kindergarten students to the school before the back-to-school night.
This event helps to acclimate them to the environment and prepare the students by making necessary activities easily available in one event. Giving Roots gives students access to things such as physicals, haircuts, and vaccinations.
Kelly Linkenhooker is a kindergarten teacher at Prices Fork who helped to create the event along with fellow teacher, Jennifer Fenrich.
“We really saw some needs that we thought that if we could really help these families and these children before school started, we could really get on the right foot,” Linkenhooker said. “Really embracing them and making them feel part of our community, we thought that would be a great place to start.”
This year around 120 students came out with their families to participate in the event. This is a number that has grown from last year, along with community involvement in the program. This year Giving Roots had participation from more community groups than before, such as the Montgomery Health Department and dental organizations. All of this is made convenient to new students by being available in one location.
“The donations and the involvement have been amazing,” Linkenhooker said. “Blacksburg is a great community to live in and when they sense a need, they come out and help.”
While all students are welcome for back-to-school night, this program specifically targets the younger age group. Linkenhooker said she has noticed a huge difference in students who are able to come to this event because they are more comfortable with their surroundings. While a back-to-school night involves all 400 students from the school, the smaller setting is less overwhelming for the younger students Linkenhooker said.
“I think I see these kids coming in and they’re not as scared and the crying wasn’t quite as much on the first day of school because thy feel more comfortable, they’ve been in the surroundings and it lets them become acclimated with their family in a really fun environment.”
The event also helps to prepare students with school supplies and different community organizations help to donate different tools. Students from the program Rackspace came out to the event this year to donate around 70 backpacks and various other school supplies. Rackspace is a cloud managing company that provides jobs in engineering, cyber security, and more.
Linkenhooker hopes to see the program continue to grow and spread throughout the county. While it is only available at Prices Fork right now, her vision is to see it available in other schools and to other grades as well.
“I would love to offer this throughout the county. I think this would be a great event to host through every elementary school because I think these are valuable services and things we can reach out and bring our communities together.”
As school begins on Aug. 9, the teachers and families at Prices Fork Elementary hope to equip the children with everything they need for educational success.