Highlands Elementary PFO holds back-to-school Western picnic

Sierra Silbor, a 1st grader at Highlands Elementary, feeds a goat at the Highlands Elementary School Western Picnic. Caleb Lunetta / The Signal.

Two weeks after the start of school, the Highlands Elementary Parent Faculty Organization held a back-to-school Western picnic Friday night at Gilchrist Farm.

The event, which was free for all families, included everything from free snow cones, to a petting zoo, wagon rides, a slide, archery and plenty of socializing for parents alike.

The socializing between parents and kids is the primary motive for the event, according to Highlands PFO President Kristin Smith.

Deerick Miller, a 5th grader at Highlands Elementary, shoots a bow and arrow at the school’s Western Picnic Friday. Caleb Lunetta / The Signal.

“When I first came to Highlands, I was nervous about whether my kids would fit in and whether it would be a good fit for us,” said Smith. “And this is just a free place for people to come to get to know each other, get to know people who they wouldn’t have known before.”

During the event, kids had free range of the farm, and where able to walk around and participate in the activities or pet and/or feed goats, ducks and chickens. Gilchrist was also allowing people to look at various baby animals that have been born on their farm, including a new baby cow.

We have a child there right now, and my son went first through sixth, and my niece goes and my other niece and nephew go (as well),” said Monica Gilchrist. “This is our school and this is Highlands.”

Luke Berrington enjoys a free snow cone at the Highlands Elementary Western Picnic. Caleb Lunetta / The Signal

The event has been held at the farm for a number of years now, and included over 200 people in attendance, according to event officials.

However, this year’s event was especially important, according to Smith, because of the new dual immersion program at Highlands that started this year. The dual immersion program was a program started this year at the school and is based on a “90/10” model, meaning that two kindergarten classes are taught 90% in Spanish and 10% in English.

The program was open was parents across the Santa Clarita Valley, regardless of geographic location, and brought in a group of families that had never been to Highlands before.

“The new dual immersion program just launched this year, and a huge influx of new families and 90 new kids (came to Highlands), and we just want them to feel immediately like they have a connection here, know who to ask questions to, and that they’re happy that they made the choice to come to Highlands,” said Smith.

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