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Franklin Park School Students Celebrate ‘Unity Day’ With Pumpkins

A Franklin Park School student decorates her pumpkin Oct. 19 during the school’s Unity Day celebration.

Although it’s been celebrated for years, Unity Day 2022 was a first for some students at Franklin Park School.

The difference? They got to feel what it was like to go pumpkin-picking.

The students never left the school property; the “field” was the school’s courtyard.

And the pumpkins weren’t growing there, they had been placed there by school staff especially for the event.

The brainchild of Theresa Hrapsky, a counselor for grades K, 1 and 2, the pumpkin theme was inspired by the day’s color theme: orange.

“The color is orange, so as I was thinking what are we going to do besides wearing orange, I’m like, pumpkins,” Hrapsky said.

Hrapsky said 700 pumpkins were purchased from a Jamesburg farm for the event.

The students, all of whom were wearing something orange, were taken to the “pumpkin field” by class and then allowed to pick their pumpkin.

They then went to the school’s cafeteria, where they were greeted by several teachers, led by art teacher Teresa Carnese.

The students were given construction paper crayons and Sharpies to decorate their pumpkins.

There were no toothless grins or menacing sneers on these pumpkins, though. The students’ assignment was to decorate the pumpkins with positive messages.

Words such as “kind,” “peace,” “helpful” and “happy” were among the messages inscribed on the gourds.

“The kids are happy,” Hrapsky said.

Jrapsky said she hopes this level of celebration of Unity Day continues at the school.

“I hope it stays with us forever because … the smiles, some of these kids have never picked pumpkins before,” she said.

Unity Day was founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in Minneapolis, Minn.

The center “actively leads social change to prevent childhood bullying, so that all youth are safe and supported in their schools, communities and online,” according to its web site.


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