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Community supports fun-filled Llewellyn "Circus"

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - An old-fashioned Tug-O-War - at the Llewellyn Elementary School end-of-year carnival! Other schools may have end-of-year carnivals, but the Llewellyn Elementary School event in Westmoreland on the evening of Friday, June 6th, was presented this year as a participatory circus!

The summer-like weather swelled attendance; the grounds were teeming with activity soon after the 5 pm opening, and the fun continued on into the evening with no signs of stopping.

As families checked in, the kids were each given a “passport” that encouraged a visit to the dozen or so fun and entertainment stations. Holders of “stamped” passports were awarded prizes, many of which were provided by Westmoreland and Sellwood merchants and restaurants.

“Ringmaster” Rachel Ginocchio and two other volunteer coordinators took a break from managing the event to speak with THE BEE about this year’s Llewellyn Carnival.

“To me, the most important thing about having an event like this is ‘building community’,” Ginocchio said. “Look around; this is an amazing community event.

“It brings together parents, the school, and our neighborhood businesses,” Ginocchio smiled. “We’re bringing these three groups together to have a lot of fun. This helps strengthen our school, and the bonds it has within our community.”

The Llewellyn Carnival was produced to reach out beyond those directly affiliated with the school, chimed in Concessions Coordinator Meg Asay. “We have welcomed families with preschoolers and even a few Duniway families here this evening. Kids who are a too young to be in the school are getting to come to see what Llewellyn is like.”

Graphic Design and Marketing Master Gavin Mahaley added, “We’ve also made a point of welcoming charter school and homeschooled children. Many times they feel ‘left out’ in the community. We’ve opened our arms to them, because we are their friends – and neighbors.”

In addition to more the some 100 volunteers who worked to produce this year’s carnival, Ginocchio said that more than 25 businesses “hosted” an activity. And more than 40 businesses provided other services, prizes, supplies, and discounts.

Although he didn’t have an “official” role in the carnival, Llewellyn Principal Joe Galati was clearly the “honorary mayor” of the temporary “carnival town”.

I never knew the something like this could be so outstandingly wonderful!” enthused Galati. “In my 27 years of education, this is a very special occasion for me

“When you look here, and you see the happy faces,” Galati said, as he was thronged with giggling kids; “Not only the kids, but also the parents are all smiling. This is evidence that the organizers – they call themselves the ‘carnies’ – have surpassed their ultimate goal for our carnival.”

After posing for a photo with students, Galati added, “The true collaborative spirit of this event is amazing.”

About his first year at as Principal at Llewellyn, Galati asked to speak directly to the community through THE BEE: “I say thank you to you all. I thank an incredible staff here. And, I continue to thank the parents who continue to ‘show me the ropes’; and I’ve learned a great deal.

“I couldn't ask for better year,” Galati said. “I can hardly wait to start year number two at Llewellyn in the fall!”