ShareThis Page

'Kerrtoberfest' at Sharpsburg's Kennedy Park a big hit with students, staff, community

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Kerr Elementary School special education teacher Brianne Claus snuggles up with her 4-month-old son Daniel during Kerr Fest.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Justin Horne picks a special pumpkin to decorate at KerrFest, a fall celebration at Kennedy Park in Sharpsburg hosted by Kerr Elementary School.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Singing and playing guitar Ed Hanna, social service liaison, along with Kerr principal Paul Noro take the stage to participate in all the fun with the students from Kerr Elementary during festival to spread the word about schoolwide positive behavior.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Kerr student Kelsi Harrover throws hoola hoops i in one of the many games set up during the KerrFest at Kennedy Park.

Kerr Elementary knows how to rock out.

Students and staff showed that on Friday with the inaugural “Kerrtoberfest,” which transformed Sharpsburg's Kennedy Park into a makeshift pumpkin patch complete with orange gourds, hoops and carnival games.

“We want to bring what we do at Kerr and show it to the community,” said Principal Paul Noro. “We want to build a good relationship with them.”

Noro and staff focus daily on three core values of responsibility, respect and integrity, he said.

The aim is to protect against bullying and instead use kindness to feel empowered.

It appeared as though the message is getting through to the more than 400 Kerr students who were invited to celebrate with their families and friend on a brisk fall afternoon.

“I love that the older kids are running the games,” said parent Jessica Debruyn, whose kindergartner, Ava, was busy decorating a pumpkin with silly-face stickers.

“They are being really sweet, and it shows a nice system of cross-support.”

Parent Jennifer Pernesky agreed. She said “it's nice to see them all coming together outside of school.”

Party-goers played duck pond, plucked lollipops from a tree and tossed hoops over mini haystacks. They decorated sugar cookies with colorful icing and played time-sensitive games a la TV's “Minute to Win it.”

The Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department parked its big red truck for afternoon tours, while a small crowd of students showed off their best dance moves during a rockin' performance by local musicians Kelsey Friday and Rick Witkowski.

Fifth-graders Julianna Caraballo and Ariana Thomas spent the day catching up with old friend Felicity Hoffman, a seventh-grader who was eager to attend and “see all my old teachers.”

The girls hopped on stage and belted out the “Kerr Song,” where lyrics reiterate school values.

“That's how we do it at Kerr,” they crooned.

LaTonya Rickerson and Damien Anderson were charged with dishing out Tootsie Roll candies at the spinning-wheel game. The winning rungs were labeled with the words respect, responsibility and integrity.

“The little kids love it,” they both said.

William Generett, a sixth-grader, attended with his younger sister and said it was “nice to hang out and see old friends.” Generett said he enjoyed watching his sister get introduced to the family atmosphere of Kerr, which extends outside the school building.

Teacher Brianne Claus said the staff works hard to make sure the students feel safe and welcome in the community.

Behavior Specialist Stacy Trpcic helped organize the event and was overwhelmed with the turnout. On a fall day when school let out at midday, students weren't required to be there, she said.

“This is a great crowd,” she said. “And it's great for kids to see all the hard work we put in and what positive behavior gets them.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.