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PHOTO GALLERY: Balloon launch gives students of all ages a chance to interact

Friday, August 26, 2011 | 2:58 p.m. CDT; updated 3:03 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 27, 2011
Columbia Independent School third-graders Jack Richards, Gabe Pfenenger, Kelly Barnes and Cohen Mason shield their eyes from the sun as they watch their balloons float away after Columbia Independent School's annual balloon launch on Friday. Julie Melnyk, a parent at the school, said the event gives the children a sense of belonging.

COLUMBIA — With around 350 students enrolled at the school, Columbia Independent School's balloon launch creates a sense of belonging and an environment where students of all grade levels know one another.

“It brings (the students) together, and it gets them ready for a new year,” said Lisa Tschopp, president of the parent association.

The school uses biodegradable balloons made of natural rubber latex for the annual event.

Eighth-grader Annie Coleman grabs a balloon on her way out the door to Columbia Independent School's annual balloon launch on Friday. Lisa Tschopp, president of the parent association, said the event helps younger and older students get to know each other better.
Students at Columbia Independent School walk to the parking lot for the annual balloon launch on Friday. This has been a tradition at the school since 1998.
Upper School Director Doug Sept ends the countdown to the balloon launch at Columbia Independent School on Friday.
Balloons from Columbia Independent School's annual balloon launch float away on Friday. The balloons, made of natural rubber latex, and the strings are friendly to the environment and biodegradable.
Beth Cowgill, a parent, and fourth-grade teachers Mandy White and Irene Hayzen walk back after taking a group photo of the fourth-grade class before the annual balloon launch at Columbia Independent School on Friday.

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