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Neighborhood hosts back-to-school picnic

Liz O'Donnell | Friday, September 25, 2009

The Northeast Neighborhood Council will host its annual back to school picnic Friday evening at the Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC).

All off-campus students are welcome to the Back to School Picnic, which is also co-sponsored by the RCLC, the Notre Dame Center for Social Concerns, and ND Student activities.

“This is a family-friendly event intended to bring students together with neighbors,” Jay Caponigro, the Director of the Robinson Community Learning Center, said.

The RCLC is a part of the Office of Public Affairs and Communication at Notre Dame, but is overseen by an advisory board consisting of Notre Dame students, community residents, university faculty and staff, and program partners.

“We have multiple activities for Notre Dame students to engage with the community and build a sense of trust and collaboration,” Caponigro said.

Caponigro said there will be plenty of activities for children, which will be run by students, representatives of churches and other community members. In addition, members of the Center for Social Concerns, Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) and the fire department will also be on hand.

“It will be a festive atmosphere for families and Notre Dame to share a meal and a conversation and get to know each other,” he said.

The picnic is one of the biggest events the RCLC holds that connects the local community with Notre Dame.

“We’ve had different events to try to bring together the community and university as part of the history of the Robinson Community Learning Center,” Caponigro said. “This is kind of our hallmark event for the fall.”

He said the picnic has strengthened over the years as more students have become involved.

“It’s a terrific experience,” Caponigro said. “We get so many families who come to and work at the center and this is the chance for them to meet students.”

More than 350 Notre Dame students attended the picnic last year. Caponigro said he hopes to have a similar turnout for this year’s picnic.

“We would be happy anywhere in that range,” he said. “It certainly fills up our space.”

The Northeast Neighborhood Council created the event to partner with the university to welcome students back to the neighborhood.

“We want to welcome students back to campus and let them know they are appreciated,” Caponigro said.

The Northeast Neighborhood Council was created in 1966 and is the oldest continually operating neighborhood association in the history of South Bend.

The picnic will take place in the RCLC side lot of the RCLC from 5:30-7:30 p.m.