Greencastle-Antrim Middle School students who are new to the district got a sweet welcome with a serious purpose last week.
A treat at Mikie's Ice Cream usually caps a field trip to local places of interest for the newcomers group, but off-campus outings are limited under the school district's COVID-19 reopening health and safety plan.
So, Marty and Dawn Boscolo, who own Mikie's Ice Cream and Green Cow Gift Shop, brought the makings for ice cream sundaes — vanilla ice cream, chocolate and strawberry syrup, whipped cream and homemade waffle cone bowls — to the middle school cafeteria on Thursday, Sept. 3.
Also different this year is distance from which students and their families have moved. Heading the list is Evelyn Hoffpauir from Athens, Greece, who was unable to attend the sundae afternoon.
His father's work brought eighth-grader Sean Heinrich to Greencastle from North Pole, Alaska.
"It's amazing. Everyone here is so friendly," Sean said. "Things are so open and I'm seeing things I haven't seen before. It's a great opportunity."
The family of sixth-grader Alfredo Castillo also moved to the area — from Fort Hood, Texas — due to work.
"My mom got a job here in Fairfield and since these were good-rated schools, we moved here," Alfredo said.
There are not normally so many new students from so far away, according to guidance counselor Fred Yelton, who said students typically come from Waynesboro, Chambersburg and Hagerstown.
Jailyn Gingell, an eighth-grader, and her sister, Juliane Gingell, a sixth-grader, originally did come from Waynesboro, where they attended school in their younger years, before moving to near Flathead Lake in Montana. They're back in Franklin County with their grandmother and brother, Jace, a G-A fourth-grader.
A sampling of the newcomers waiting in line for ice cream also included seventh-graders Kieshon Britton from Columbia, Md., and Nikolas Colligan from York.
"It makes us our own little melting pot — people from different places, different ethnicities," said Marty Boscolo.
It can be hard to move to a new community and a new school, which is why the newcomers group is important, according to Yelton, who meets with the youngsters for about the first four weeks of school.
"Statistics tell us there are so many chances for them to be at risk when leaving one school for another ... missing their friends, not making new ones," he said. "My goal is to make as many connections with them as I can."
During the meetings, they get to see other new kids and get a sense of the community.
"If they're struggling, they're comfortable with me," Yelton said. "I'm the guy that gives them pizza and ice cream, so I'm pretty cool."
Yelton also put together a video of local places they would have seen during the field trip such as Tayamentasachta environmental center, Martin's Mill Bridge, the walking and bike paths, playing fields and dog park at Antrim Township Community Park, Enoch Brown Park, Jerome R. King Playground, Clary Field and Moss Spring Swim Club.
The audio for the video didn't play well in the cafeteria so Yelton made it available online.
The guidance department has been doing the field trip for about 10 years ago. Not only do the Boscolos provide the ice cream, but when budget cuts threatened the trip several years ago, they started paying for that, too.
"It's important when people come to the community they know the sites and the history," said Dawn Boscolo.
"It's wonderful to work and earn a living in the the community you live in," her husband added.
"The community is good to us," Dawn Boscolo said.
The Boscolos explained they were shocked at the number and size of takeout orders when their business was closed to diners early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We had a ton of local support," Marty Boscolo said.