Hundreds of students, parents, members of the HPS leadership and staff and volunteers stood up to the triple-digits to set up the fourth annual Back to School Bash. The event was moved this year to the Fair Park after its event last year nearly swamped downtown. This did mean some of the heat could be absorbed into the grass and soil rather than reflected back from concrete.
HPS Superintendent Jonathan Crossley was a jubilant vision in Bobcat red and white as he mingled. Asked his thoughts on seeing the attendance today, he said, “I'm grateful with everything that's going on, and just really appreciative of our staff. We have tons of staff volunteers. We've got the band, the cheerleaders, administrators on the dunk tank, people with smiles on their faces ready for the year. And as we move forward this year, it's so important for us to remember, this is what it's all about, community and our kids. That's what it is. And if we keep that at the forefront, we'll have a great year.”
The event drew an even larger crowd than last year's version and seemed to rival even a Watermelon Festival Saturday for things for kids to do.
Several local entities lined their respective awnings and tables along the eastern border of the park, most offering activities or free items:
· Farmers Bank and Trust
· Hope Hempstead Chamber of Commerce
· Hope Police Department
· Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office
· Hope Junior Auxiliary
· First Baptist Church’s Student Ministry E.P.I.C
· Southwest Arkansas Arts Council
· Farm Bureau Women's Committee
· Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperative
· Hope Public Schools
· The Childhood Nutrition Activity Bus
Could another such bash be in the immediate future? Crossley may be considering it. “This is what a community of 10,000 people is all about. We're a perfect size to be doing this much more often,” he said.
As the event came to a close at around 7:30, attendees could seek out spots on the bleachers next to the tennis courts, where the Hope Bobcats Boys and Girls were taking on Camden Fairview.