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AYER — One might think that at 6 p.m. on a Friday night, most elementary school families would be home recuperating from a long work/school week, but not the community at Ayer’s Page Hilltop School. At 6 p.m. on the last day of September, organized by the school’s PTO, in the crisp autumn air, 200 members of the school’s population gathered on the playground lawn to enjoy picnic dinners. Some kids ate fluffernutters and burgers, while others enjoyed a more traditional picnic fare of fried chicken and potato salad. One family even brought take-out Chinese food, which was envied by many!

Around 6:30 p.m., most of the children were playing on the playground, while parents got a chance to meet and talk to their children’s friend’s parents — an opportunity that does not present itself often. One child told Page Hilltop Principal Rob Ackerman, “The kids are on the playground because they ate quick so they could play, parents just talk!”

At 6:45, as the picnic was winding down, the doors to the school’s Cultural Arts room opened up and became a movie theatre for a large screen viewing of the new video release, “Robots.” Only 200 tickets were available, due to the capacity allowed by the room, and all tickets were sold out prior to the event!

“We are so happy with the turnout for this event,” event chair Debbi Blood said. “It is great to see all these families together!”

The PTO popped complimentary popcorn for the enthusiastic crowd, and offered Robots-themed fruit snacks. Families spread out their blankets on the floor, kids cuddled up with pillows and friends, and watched a fun, family movie. Right before the viewing of the movie, Ackerman invited the children in the audience to come up on the stage for a group photo with him.

“I love the kids at this school, and I am so happy to be able to have fun gatherings like this for these families,” Ackerman said.

As if all those treats weren’t enough, there was a door prize raffle at the end of the night! Shawn Powell, who was the lucky winner, won the “Robots” movie and a handmade Ellen McCann fleece blanket in an animal theme print. McCann is a very crafty first grade teacher whom the PTO persuaded to create this adorable blanket! “We want to thank Mrs. McCann very much. We also could not have done this without Christine Miska, who was the person in charge of the technical set up for the movie showing, and the Arrigos, who tirelessly popped popcorn for the entire night,” event coordinator Debbi Blood said. At the end of the night, there were a few children sleeping on their blankets, but the rest of them had smiles from ear to ear and were thankful for such a great night.

On the way out, Brad Arrigo, Page Hilltop kindergartener said, “When is the next movie?”

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