The Prosper community came together Friday night to celebrate the start of a new school year and learn more about the safety elements involved with that at the Back To School Safety Bash held at Rogers Middle School. The event was open to all students and was a way to help all families feel connected, Rucker Elementary Principal Machelle Scogin said.

“Unlike just a regular family night, it’s really all geared towards safety and understanding the role of our Prosper ISD Police Department and how they’re here to help as opposed to like enforce laws,” Scogin said. “Also we have people who will provide Kid Print ID cards, so in case a child is lost you have the most up to date picture and weight, height of a child, things such as that.”

The venue was packed with people — as many as 750, Scogin estimated. Families and students milled about, playing games and winning prizes or interacting with the 911 simulator, which allows individuals to experience what a 911 call feels like, while also explaining the importance of using the 911 number appropriately.

The district’s transportation department was also on hand, letting parents and students know what the plan will be if there is inclement weather or how to enter and exit buses safely.

“This is more geared towards safety for their (parents’) children, also informing them about each of the campuses and which officers are going to be there to support,” Scogin said. “So just putting a face so that that person is seen as someone who helps us, not someone to be afraid of, and just the things that we’ve put into our school systems to reassure those parents that safety is our number one priority.”

She said as the district continues to grow, it’s important to personalize this kind of information to instill a sense of community within the district.

“I think that’s what Prosper does really well, is we personalize it,” she said. “We make it relative to our families of all ages. … (We) have a lot of new families coming in from California, with Toyota, New York, we have a lot of influx of children that didn’t come from this area so Texas is very unique in the way we do things, and Prosper even more.”

The Back to School Safety Bash is now in its second year. Scogin said this was an initiative started by the Prosper Police Department last year.

“We’re really excited, she said. “I think knowledge is key with anything. … We’re growing at a 97 percent growth rate and (building) new schools and we do spread out from Denton to McKinney, Frisco to Celina, and we want to make sure our families still feel connected.”