SPOTSWOOD, NJ - The Spotswood PTA hosted its annual Ice Cream Social at Appleby on Friday night to help welcome the second through fifth grade students back to school. The event featured ice cream with toppings along with some extra sweet treats. Students got the opportunity to play inside and outside with their classmates as parents enjoyed catching up with friends or making new ones. Appleby Principal Nancy Torchiano was on hand to greet parents, siblings and students as well as a large portion of the school's teaching staff. Members of the Memorial Middle School National Junior Honor Society volunteered their time to help serve ice cream.

"We started the Back to School Ice Cream my first year as president," explained Spotswood PTA President Melissa Hallerman. "The feedback we get every year is wonderful. I can't think of a better way to kick off the new year than meeting new classmates, having parents exchanging numbers for a playdate and hanging out with your teacher outside of the classroom. Of course, everyone loves ice cream! "

This year the event featured a Quiet Space Ice Cream Place earlier in the evening for students who prefer a less loud and boisterous atmosphere.

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"Last year a big focus in our organization was making our events more inclusive to all families," said Hallerman of the new aspect of the ice cream social. "We have been working very closely with the district's Special Education Parent Teacher Association as well as Schoenly and Appleby's SEL, Social Emotional Learning, teams. Some new features we will have this year include a sensory friendly play area, peer buddies and picture cues posted around the event and a Quiet Social. For children that have sensory issues we wanted them and their families to be able to come and enjoy the event as well. Our goal is for all families and all children to always feel welcome and included."

The Schoenly School holds their Back to School Ice Cream Social on September 20 at 7 p.m.