ST. PETER — Sleeping bags and pillows covered the floor of the gymnasium. There was barely walking room between makeshift camp sites.
Who could have predicted that a screening of “The Croods” in the South Elementary Early Learning Center gymnasium would bring in 350 people?
“It was packed wall to wall,” said Principal Darin Doherty.
Free family movie nights at South began with a screening last spring. The event was well attended, so the Parent Council decided to sponsor and promote more movie nights this year, which — after the first incredibly popular event a few weeks ago — has proven to be a good idea.
“It's a great time for parents to spend with their kids,” said Dawn Selly, chair of the Parent Council. “One of our reasons, besides the fact that it's fun, is just to connect the parents and families to the school.”
Doherty said the school plans to offer a movie night every other month. The next is 6 p.m. Friday and after the tally of the students' votes, “Despicable Me 2” will be shown.
He said the idea came from having a sound and projector system built into the gym, as well as the commitment to fostering a sense of community among South students, families and school staff.
“We thought, 'Well, gosh, the Parent Council's mission is to get families involved and build connections with the building and with each other,'” Doherty said. “This is a really easy way to do that.”
The events also offer free popcorn, and bottles of water are available. Families are welcome to bring in their own snacks.
At the end of the movie night, drawings are held for a copy of the movie that was watched as well as other prizes.