Partying in the park

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BROOKSVILLE – Families flocked to Tom Varn Park on Saturday to eat, dance, socialize and get in some early trick-or-treating.
Mary DeNote, 8, winds up and knocks down bowling pins Saturday at the Harvest Festival. WENDY JOAN BIDDLECOMBE/STAFF
The inaugural event, sponsored by Communities In Schools of Hernando County and Hernando High School, served as a family-friendly event and fundraiser, said Tracy Echols, executive director of the nonprofit group.

Echols said it was important to the event organizers to not charge an entry fee to local families, and the event was made possible by generous community partners that stepped in when government grants ran out.

Communities In Schools of Hernando County works to keep children in school, helping them successfully complete their education through support and mentoring along the way and instilling the importance of setting goals for the future.

“Education sets them up for success or failure,” Echols said, explaining many local children mistakenly believe getting a GED is an easy thing to do.

“It’s impossible to catch up,” Echols said, adding job prospects are few and far between for high school dropouts.

Now in its third year, the dropout prevention organization works with students at Hernando High and Central High School, providing homework help and pairing students with role models who listen.

A national nonprofit, Echols said the Hernando chapter is the newest Florida affiliate, and volunteers and contributions are always welcome.

Information on Communities In Schools is available at

(352) 544-5283