PORT ANGELES — Five-year-old Markus Winkler was not excited about getting a haircut. That is, until he learned barber Rico Davis could shave anything he wanted on the side of his head.
So, he sat with a quiet smile as Davis used his clippers to cut a star into his blond hair.
“He is going to the be most handsome boy in all kindergarten,” said Teri Newell, who brought Markus to the hair-cutting tent at the 14th annual Port Angeles School District back-to-school fair Saturday at Jefferson Elementary School.
“All the girls are going to be after him!”
After two years as a drive-through event due to COVID restrictions, the fair returned to in-person attendance to distribute school supplies, clothing and information on support services to assist Port Angeles families prepare for the new school year.
The line to enter the fair began forming at 8:30 a.m. — 90 minutes before it was scheduled to begin.
“We’ve run out of backpacks in past years, so that’s the reason people might have wanted to line up early,” said Carmen Geyer, the PASD communications and community relations coordinator.
“But because of sponsors, we were able to get 1,000 backpacks this year so hopefully we won’t run out.”
By the time the fair ended at 1 p.m., Geyer reported that more than 850 backpacks had been distributed, a 13 percent increase over the 750 handed out last year. The remaining backpacks will be distributed to schools throughout the district for them to give to students.
Handed out in the school gymnasium, the backpacks, which came in a wide range of colors and patterns and in three different sizes, were each filled with 30 items including folders, pencils, a ruler, glue stick and a plastic pencil box.
Students could choose to add extra supplies like three-ring binders, lined loose-leaf paper, colored markers, pink erasers, highlighters and craft scissors.
Heidi Eberle’s son Matthias, 8, and daughter Emily Abbitt, 10, had already picked up their backpacks and were choosing among the coats organized by age group in an area next to the gym’s stage.
“I think this is going to be nice for when it’s windy,” said Emily of the bright green Columbia jacket she had chosen.
Heidi Eberle said she saved a significant amount of money by attending the fair.
“I have three kids in school and it costs about $100 each for school supplies,” she said. “We’ll still have to shop for school clothes, but this is still very helpful.”
Newell said that, for most of the families she knew, the fair was necessary for preparing their children for the start of school.
“It is a godsend for so many people in this community,” Newell said. “There is a lot of good information and the school supplies are important.”
Nearly 62 percent of students in Port Angeles schools live below the poverty line, said Lisa Lyon, program manager for Lutheran Community Services, in a PASD press release.
More than 30 volunteers assisted at the fair, not including the seven stylists who donated their time in the tent where Markus got his haircut.
Twenty-two outdoor booths sponsored by local organizations provided information to parents on bus routes, school meals, nutrition, medical care and other resources.
Families were also invited to step inside the North Olympic Healthcare Network’s 39-foot-long mobile health clinic that will make regular visits to every school in the district this year for primary care and mental health appointments.
The first day of school for first through 12th grades in PASD will be Sept. 1. The first day of kindergarten classes will be Sept. 7.
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at email@example.com.