Rachel Tax, left, and Karen Kremkau hand out backpacks at the Back to School Fair at Helen Haller Elementary in 2021. Saturdays event features a drive-through and on-the-field fair at the Sequim School District stadium on West Fir Street. (Michael Dashiell / Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Rachel Tax, left, and Karen Kremkau hand out backpacks at the Back to School Fair at Helen Haller Elementary in 2021. Saturdays event features a drive-through and on-the-field fair at the Sequim School District stadium on West Fir Street. (Michael Dashiell / Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim plans hybrid Back to School Fair

SEQUIM — The pandemic forced Sequim schools to become flexible in meeting the needs of its students, with many youths getting instruction both in person and remotely. Similarly, this year’s Back to School Fair is taking on a kind of “hybrid” mode.

The fair, set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Sequim High School athletic stadium on West Fir Street, will feature drive-through and on-the-field booths and activities, as school staff and community members offer a variety of resources for the upcoming school year, including school supplies, clothes and food.

A focus of this year’s fair, said Merrin Packer — fair co-organizer and the school district’s McKinney-Vento and Foster Care liaison — is “to introduce the community to resources here, post-pandemic.”

The fair features about 30 vendors offering everything from information about youth sports to resources for families seeking to end domestic violence. Free lunches are offered from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula and Sequim Valley Lions Club.

On hand will be Alison Cline, chair of the Washington State Elks Association’s Drug Awareness Program, offering free basketballs, coloring books and information about drug safety, local Elks representatives said.

Each of Sequim’s school buildings will be represented by staff at the fair, Packer noted, to help students and parents learn about any changes at their school.

Attendees can also enjoy entertainment from Sequim Acrobatics, plus yard games and popcorn.

“Kids are anxious to be social again,” Packer noted.

For those students and parents concerned about staying COVID-safe, fair organizers are offering a drive-through option along West Fir Street guided by Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members, and will have access to all resources the fair offers except clothing and lunches.

Packer oversees the district’s care closet, where students whose families show a need — they qualify for free/reduced lunch rates or are experiencing homelessness — can “shop” for free, picking up everything from shirts and pants, hygiene products and shoes.

Packer coordinates with Sequim’s schools, most of which have a version of a care closet on their campuses, to meet the needs of all grade levels.

Community members can donate items for students throughout the school year at specific schools; pencils and notebooks are always appreciated, Packer noted, as are sweatpants and leggings.

She said the district saw a significant increase in the number of Sequim-area youths identified as homeless, likely caused by the housing shortage.

Calls for student assistance at the district office earlier this year saw a large influx of clothing and supplies.

“I’m amazed at the support of the community,” Packer said.

For more information, see facebook.com/events/447794430522176.

________

Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

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