With students all across the area returning to school, representatives from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church (UMC) and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Defiance are throwing a party to kick off the new school year.

The first-ever Back to School Bash for students in grades 6-12 will be held Wednesday from 6:30-8 p.m. in the south courtyard of The State Bank, located at the corner of Clinton and Fourth streets in Defiance.

According to Marcella Ciccotelli, director of youth and children’s services at St. Paul’s UMC, the event is being held to bring youth together for some fun as the new school year begins.

“Our original idea was to do this just for the youth of our two churches, but then we thought, ‘Why don’t we invite the community?’” said Ciccotelli. “The whole idea is to bring kids together for some fellowship and a lot of fun. Kids who are involved at church know the other kids who are involved, too, there’s a camaraderie in that, but the best part of this event is that you don’t have to be a believer to come. Just show up Wednesday and have some fun.

“Some kids have a hard time going to back to school, so the idea to have an event that’s fun really appealed to us,” continued Ciccotelli. “We know some junior high and high school kids have anxiety and depression, and this event is a way to help combat that. Drawing closer to God is a great way to combat that, too, but kids don’t always see that. So by drawing kids closer together to support each other, they will feel that support and school won’t be so bad.”

The Back to School Bash is free, and will include music, food prepared by Pete Lundberg, ice cream from Dad’s Dairy Depot, games, a scavenger hunt (held in downtown Defiance), a graffiti wall (made of canvas), and if the temperature is warm, water games. (The graffiti wall and water games will be held on St. Paul’s UMC property).

“We’re going to take pictures of architectural objects, really close up, that can be found downtown (between Second and Arabella streets),” said Ciccotelli, about the scavenger hunt. “Those will include some of the downtown churches, but the whole point is to get kids moving and to become familiar with the downtown. The kids will be working in groups, and once a group finds an object, they will take a photo of it with their phone to prove they found it.

“The graffiti wall will be held in the backyard at St. Paul’s, we don’t want paint at the courtyard at The State Bank, and if it gets really hot out, we’re going to do water games there too,” added Ciccotelli. “This whole thing really came about when the youth groups from the two churches went to camp together at Lakeside, (Ohio). That’s where the idea started, and it really grew from there.”

For more information about the Back to School Bash, call 419-782-3751.

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