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Monday, August 18, 2014

Nashua Back to School Night on Thursday expected to draw a crowd

Organizers of the 10th annual Back to School Night are striving to make Nashua students’ return to school a joyful event.

“This year, it’s more than a school supply event, it’s a celebration. Every age group, every school child is invited; private, charter, homeschool students – everyone,” said George Katis, chairman of the Fundraising Committee at the Nashua Chamber of Commerce. “With parents, we’re expecting 3 to 4,000 people.” ...

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Organizers of the 10th annual Back to School Night are striving to make Nashua students’ return to school a joyful event.

“This year, it’s more than a school supply event, it’s a celebration. Every age group, every school child is invited; private, charter, homeschool students – everyone,” said George Katis, chairman of the Fundraising Committee at the Nashua Chamber of Commerce. “With parents, we’re expecting 3 to 4,000 people.”

Katis has had a part of Back to School Night for the last nine years.

The event takes place Thursday, Aug. 21, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Library Plaza.

Each school will have a designated table in the library manned by the principal. Students and parents can visit their school tables and speak one on one with their principals, and after exiting the library students receive a bag of school supplies, said Katis.

In the square in front of the library will be snacks, drinks and a DJ, said Katis.

“It’s a real party atmosphere. High school cheerleaders, kids dancing, and the raffle. We’re giving away 40 backpacks stuffed with school supplies. The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are providing to the first 500 students, 2 tickets to their games,” he said.

Superintendent Mark Conrad and Mayor Donnalee Lozeau will be present.

“You can just show up, it’s free to attend, every child who shows up will get a bag of school supplies and entered into the raffle,” said Chris Williams, president and CEO of the Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

Williams said the groups have raised over $10,000 this year. “We use (the money) to buy, in bulk, school supplies for the event.”

City businesses and organizations will be there as well. “There’s over 15 agencies providing further information for children and parents,” he said.

Mayor Bernie Streeter started the event in 2004, and the idea gained traction so quickly that the city asked the Chamber of Commerce to get involved, said Williams. He said it was gratifying to see the local business participation.

“They believe in the importance of quality education...they don’t want students to worry about their school supplies,” he said.

Katis said some of the biggest donors have come back year after year, including Nashua Wallpaper, the Ted Williams Foundation, the Fisher Cats, Oracle and the Nash Foundation.

Williams and Katis said the event has been so successful, a similar celebration started in Manchester.

Donations will be accepted through Aug. 20, the day before the event, said Williams. Call the Chamber office at 881-8333 for details.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402 or tforbes@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Forbes on Twitter (@Telegraph_TinaF).