Parents and children stood in a long line Wednesday waiting to join a wall-to-wall crowd for a back-to-school fair at Fort Stewart’s Club Stewart. The annual event offers military families information about schools on and off post and showcases community resources and educational activities.
This year, 54 exhibitors participated, including Liberty and Long county public schools; Children, Youth and School Services; churches; libraries; both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America; the Fraser Center; Operation Homefront Georgia; Helen’s Haven Children’s Advocacy Center; area technical colleges and universities; and some local businesses.
Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield School Liaison Officer Gregory Cooke fielded parents’ questions about registering their children for school.
“We have a lot of excited parents and excited kids,” Cooke said. He works closely with local school districts and serves as the liaison for Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Kevin Milton on school-related matters.
Army spouse Angela Emond and her husband, Spc. Nathan Emond, attended the fair with their 6-year-old son, Cody, and their 4-year-old daughter, Morgan, to get information about school and community programs and register for free backpacks.
Christina Anthony, family services director with Operation Homefront Georgia, said the organization will give 750 backpacks to Fort Stewart families, 250 to Hunter Army Airfield families and 250 to Navy families stationed at Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay near St. Marys. She said Operation Homefront now has a local office at 400 N. Main St. in Hinesville, across from St. Joseph’s Candler. For more information, call 877-1340.
Army spouse Lillie Herrington was one of many parents seeking information about registering her children for school. She said her family relocated to Hinesville this summer. Her husband’s previous duty station was at Fort Lewis, Wash. She will enroll her daughters, Krystal, 13, and Krystian, 10, in Liberty County public schools.
Christie Malburg attended the fair with her boys, Brandan, 8, and Joseph, 10. Malburg said her husband, Spc. Jason Malburg, asked her to acquire information on college programs.
“I want to go back to school,” Malburg said. “And my husband wants to, also.”
Some fair vendors offered extracurricular learning activities to fair attendees.
Maggie Freeman, Club Stewart Catering operations assistant, polled military families to determine interest in a proposed cooking class for kids. Freeman said Club Stewart Catering offered a children’s cooking class in years past and hopes to do the same this year.
The Rev. Rich Wright, pastor of Hinesville First United Methodist Church and a leader with the Boy Scouts of America Liberty District, told parents and youth about the new co-ed Boy Scouts of America program called Venturing.
“The program is fairly new,” Wright said. “It’s for ages 13-21. We have several crews across Liberty County. (Venturing) focuses on high adventure, like repelling and sea kayaking.”
Liberty County public schools start classes Thursday, Aug. 4, and Fort Stewart Department of Defense Education Activity schools begin Monday, Aug. 8.