What’s the best way to celebrate the return of school?

The answer, according to administrators at Sonoran Science Academy Ahwatukee, is to host a barbecue for families and students to enjoy free food and a fun atmosphere.

The back-to-school barbecue has been a four-year tradition at the school, which has nearly 120 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The students all met last Friday in the school gymnasium to hear Assistant Principal Kenny Walkers address them about what it takes to succeed throughout the school year as faculty members were setting up for this year’s barbecue.

When Walkers finished speaking, the families aligned outside the gym to receive their plate of food to feast on.

Principal Faith Ozis said the event is a way to get to know the families of their students and communicate with the small school community.

Ozis is still fairly new to the school, entering her second year as principal, and was approached by faculty members about how in the past they would have the back-to-school barbecue. She was all for the idea of keeping the tradition alive, yet jokes that she is not too good at handling the grill.

“If you have something already set in a school, you would like to keep it going,” Ozis said. “People are already enjoying it, people already know about it, so it’s a way to keep the culture going.”

The annual barbecue is planned a month into the school year because there is so much going on during the beginning of school with getting students acclimated to the curriculum.

Ozis said the faculty has a very strong commitment from parents to make the school year better than previous years.

“It’s very important to have the parents come and feel the school’s environment more and more,” Ozis said. “Since this is the first event (of the year), we are trying to be welcoming for everybody to come in and enjoy meals with us and share our bread.”

Fatih Karatas, CEO at Sonoran Science Academy, said the annual event is a way to give back to the families and thank them for being part of their school community.

“This kind of activity definitely helps us make the connections with the parents,” Karatas said. “We just want to make them feel like this is a family.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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