NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence Education Foundation welcomed Class of 2026 parents at the third annual Kindergarten Mixer at the William Paca Club Thursday night.

Board member and chairperson of the event, Jama Podell-Vitale, explained that the purpose of the yearly gathering is to make new incoming Kindergarten parents feel comfortable and welcomed into the district.

"We have the event so we can introduce parents and make them feel comfortable, so they won't feel overwhelmed on the first day of school," Podell-Vitale said.

She added that the New Providence superintendent as well as both elementary school principals were in attendance for parent-staff member interaction.

"They make themselves accessible so parents can get to know them better," Podell-Vitale said.

Principal of Salt Brook Elementary School, Jeannie Maier, told TheAlternativePress.com that she finds the event to be great because it allows parents to interact with one another.

"Sometimes it's difficult for parents, especially parents new to the district, to meet one another, so this is a really great platform for them," Maier said.

The elementary school principal added that the most valuable part of the night is that parents become better acquainted with the district.

"We want parents to become more comfortable with the community and the district and this allows them to mingle and ask questions," Maier said.

New residents to New Providence, Chris and Lisa Lagana moved to the town three months ago from Hoboken, particularly for the award-winning school district.

"We've been really excited about our son, Thomas, starting kindergarten and before this event, we didn't meet any parents with children of the same age," Lisa said.

She added that the mixer gave her and her husband the opportunity to not only meet staff, but to also talk with parents who have already gone through kindergarten with one or more children.

"We've been making friends and having a really great time on our night out," Chris said.

President of NPEF, Hugo Barth, said he wishes something like this was held when his children were entering kindergarten.

"I didn't have this for my kids and I wish I did," Barth said.  "It's really nice to be able to tell parents what they have to look forward to."

Barth added that this year's turnout was the best so far and that all attendees are fortunate to be a part of such a great town.

"We're very fortunate to live in this community and to have an event like this to celebrate four schools is very rewarding," Barth said.