The 11-year-old took home first prize in the costume contest at Van Gorder Elementary School’s annual Sock Hop event Friday, winning via screams of her friends, family and hungry community members. Amari said she was inspired by the movie Grease and various fashion tips she received researching “car hop” online.
“I wanted to do something different than just a polka dot skirt and I tried to be creative,” Amari said.
The sixth-grade student said she enjoys coming to the Sock Hop and being around all of her friends.
Van Gorder’s Sock Hop event has become a tradition since the school’s opening 11 years ago and is carried out by the Parent Faculty Association (PFA). Vice President of the PFA, Shanda Heacock, said the event is one they do not go in with the intention of bringing in money for the school.
“We don’t make money, actually, (at this event) sometimes we lose money,” she said. “I think the kids and parents look forward to it every year and they get to know each other at the beginning of the year.”
The Sock Hop was complete with round-the-clock ‘50s music, hot dogs, beverages, a cake walk and contests in costume, bubble blowing and Hula hoop categories. With old-fashioned garb being sported playground wide, children and parents rarely presented anything but bright smiles and energetic dancing.
“We have been coming here since my oldest (daughter) was in 1st grade,” said Jen Clark, whose 10- and 5-year-old children were runners-up as a duo in the costume contest. “They made their own costumes this year and we helped them glue the jewels on their glasses.”
Kristen Evers, a first-grade teacher at the school, brought her 15-month-old daughter Audrey to their inaugural Sock Hop. Evers said she was surprised by the amount of people in attendance.
“I can’t believe how many people are here. This is a huge turnout,” she said. “It’s nice to have an opportunity for the parents and families to interact with teachers and get to know some of the school staff better.”
Principal Jen Van Tress said the community atmosphere demonstrated at the Sock Hop is only a sliver of the support and interaction the school receives year-round.
“I have amazing parent support here and it is great because if we are planning celebrations I can get hold of the parents, voice any concerns and we can get immediate support,” she said. “They support me and all of the teachers and it is just awesome.”
Van Tress said the PFA’s fundraising effort in the last year has provided the school with 20 new netbooks, LCD projectors in every classroom and mouse pens for students to learn hands-on during their lessons. Heacock said the community support in Red Hawk and surrounding areas has helped transform the school beyond their regular funding from the Washoe County School District.
“All of the schools get the same amount of money, except for Title I schools getting a little more, and depending on the parents involvement, there can be a lot more money and support for the school,” Heacock said. “It’s a very tight-knit community and we have a ton of teachers and parents that put in a lot of time to make this happen.”
In addition to gaining local partnerships with the nearby Raley’s and other businesses, the PFA holds several annual fundraisers to benefit the school. Heacock said the community garage sale done every year directly benefits the school’s library, and the cookie dough selling and bingo nights bring in more money for the school to amp up the facility.
With fundraising efforts continuing throughout the year, Van Tress said the Sock Hop is a yearly way of socializing with families during the school’s multi-track schedule.
“It’s something cheap fun for families to do on a Friday night and brings the community together. We have returning students who come back every year and it gives the kids the opportunity to socialize with each other and see their friends outside of the regular school day.”