Central students have big day on Friday

John Thompson • Updated Oct 7, 2017 at 7:43 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Friday was a great day to be a student at Central Elementary School. It was a gorgeous early fall day, just right for playing outside, and the school's Parent Teacher Organization had installed some inflatable rides and slides for the day.

But eighth-grade teacher Dawn Taylor said what made the day so special was that it was the annual Welcome Back to School Kick Off, and that meant there would be a lot of other fun activities going on all day long.

First off, some athletes from East Tennessee State University dropped by and some of the boys and girls got to play five-on-five half-court basketball with the college players on the Central court. It was especially fun when a student scored a basket against a Buccaneer while the entire school was watching. The cheers were earsplitting..

The annual visit by the Buccaneers is always a Kick Off favorite, but another group the children enjoy is the Central Volunteer Fire Department. Once again, the firefighters came with a fire truck and the gear they use when they put out fires.

Taylor said another popular group on the day was Wings Air Rescue, which provided the students an opportunity to learn about helicopters.

Once again, the cafeteria staff made the lunch special by grilling hot dogs and hamburgers outside. It was a picnic, not a school lunch and to top off the meal, the children had Menchie's frozen yogurt for dessert.

Speaking of food, Taylor said one focus of this year's Kick Off was the school's food drive for the Second Harvest Food Bank. The students who brought in the most items for Second Harvest received prizes for their hard work.

The other focus of the Kick Off was the school's guitar education program, which was started after research showed that students who learn music are usually better at academic studies like reading and math.

As a special thank you to Principal Terry Morley, he was presented with one of the guitars, which was autographed by Patty Loveless, Ralph Stanley II, Randy Blevins, Little River Band and the Kentucky Head Hunters.

More music was provided by an appearance during the day by the Happy Valley High School Marching Band. That visit was made even better when the band allowed the Central students to play with the high school band.

The festivities were broadcast to the community by WBEJ radio.

But the Kick Off was not just for fun. In addition to filling up several large barrels with cans and boxes of donated food, the event received $3,000 worth of books from Johnson City’s Books-A-Million store.

Prior to Friday's festivities, the school also had a successful guitar auction and barbecue dinner on Thursday evening. Over 600 people enjoyed the barbecue and Taylor said the auction was also a success, with several autographed guitars sold, including guitars autographed by the Marshall Tucker Band, the Oak Ridge Boys and Brad Paisley.

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