After two years without one, the annual Lincoln School Valentine’s Ball was held February 11th and more than 450 flocked to the beloved event that had become a highly-anticipated tradition before COVID-19 precluded it from happening.
Pre-K through second grade girls and boys - many dressed up in fancy, semi-formal attire - and their Moms, Dads, siblings and other extended family members came out on the chilly wintry night to the school for the wonderful, fun-filled event.
Always lovely and thoughtfully planned to make it extra-special, the Valentine’s Ball centered around the decorated gymnasium where upbeat music for dancing was provided.
The playlist, assembled by Lincoln School Principal Kari Hamelinck included “The Cupig Shuffle” for everyone to dance to several times.
Pre-Kindergarten teacher and a member of the PTA subcommittee that planned the Valentine’s Ball, Stephanie Joyce said Lincoln School students learn the song and dance and practice it in their music classes before the event.
Joyce said it’s important because the whole focus is essentially anti-bullying and “spreading the love at Lincoln School” like in the book “The Cupig Shuffle” by Erin Canty.
Kindness arrows, with compliments or kind messages on them, written by students and others, were also posted in the hallways for the Valentine’s Ball so everyone could read them.
Pizza, milk or water and colorful Valentine cookies were served by Penny Attwell and Lincoln School teacher assistant Terry Keifer at the “Sweetheart Dinner” in the cafeteria.
There was no cost to anyone attending. The cost of the entire event was entirely underwritten by the PTA and a few local businesses.
Shuttle bus service was provided by the school district from nearby Newark-Wayne Community Hospital where many people parked their vehicles. The hospital also provided coat racks for the event.
Also this year, there was the very, very popular family photo station arranged for by Joyce. Her husband, Karl, took photos along with Winston Vargas, a retired photographer, and his wife, Jain. Karl Joyce edits all the photos and the couple donates a free 4x6 photo to those who were photographed.
Students and their families enjoyed making Valentine-related crafts in a classroom and in the Pre-K and Kindergarten hallway. PTA President Amber Benedict and son, Jameson, a second grade pupil, cut out construction paper hearts for the craft room activities.
At the end of the evening, children were given Valentine’s Day glow rings.
Benedict said she was so happy the Valentine’s Ball could be reinstated this year. She noted it was planned by herself, Joyce, Denise Buisch, Danielle King, Shawnna Wirth and Stephanie Weigand.
“Everyone is so excited to be here,” Benedict said. “This is the biggest event that the PTA fundraises for.”
“I want to thank our Principal Kari Hamelinck and Assistant Principal Mary Kate Wilbert; Bob Mosteiro, our Head Custodian and his staff for going over and above to help us. We couldn’t do this without them,” Joyce said. “I especially want to thank all of our student volunteers and others who helped us. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Student volunteers were: Sofia Comer, Camryn Tolleson, Alexa Gravino, Lily Martin, Addison Bulman, Morghan Perry, Brayden Sherman, Elizabeth Hamelinck and Anna Hamelinck.
Volunteers who helped set up for the event during the evening Feb. 11th included: Rebecca Adams, Jami Hudak, Nicolette Prutzman, Eileen Hill, Missy Allison, Penny Attwell, Elaine Erb, Ava Erb, Emma Warrington, Shawnna Wirth and Lisa Williams. Valentine Ball volunteers included: Elaine Erb, Ava Erb, Emma Warrington, Gina Vermeersch, Lex Vermeersch, Amanda Richwalder, Zoey Richwalder, Lexi Morales, Aidan Jarzynka-Le, Jasmine Bueso and Penny Attwell.
“We were very happy to bring back the Lincoln School Valentine’s Ball this year. The ball had been on hold since our last one in February 2020. We had more than half of our students attend with their families and it was a wonderful evening to see our hallways and community spaces shared with our Lincoln Families. We are already looking forward to doing it again next year,” said Principal Kari Hamelinck.
“I also need to thank The Lincoln PTA, Mrs. Joyce and all of the volunteers that helped put the event together. They did a tremendous job making the evening special for everyone.”