While kids are relishing their last days of summer, the faculty, staff members and administration of the Manassas Park school district gathered at Manassas Park Middle School to get pumped up for a new academic year Monday.

Led by School Superintendent Bruce McDade, more than 400 members of the school division, including teachers, School Board members, bus drivers and maintenance staff, filled the Thomas H. DeBolt Auditorium for a back-to-school convocation and business partner appreciation.

The two-part event began with “getting the family together,” McDade said. The goal was to build energy and enthusiasm for the upcoming academic year. By the end of the session, the auditorium was roaring with music and applause.

“We’re celebrating our past and thinking about the future,” McDade said.

The assembly was based in part on a conference last month that a five-member team from Manassas Park, including McDade, attended. The three-day Summer Connection conference in North Carolina, sponsored by the Mooresville Graded School District, focused on digitally converting schools.

“We have got to have 21st-century learning skills,” McDade said. “We have to think in new ways.”

The excitement from the first session continued as the crowd welcomed its business partners for a formal ceremony recognizing the nearly 200 businesses and individuals who have supported the school system with funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics “initiatives, scholarships, health and literacy programs and an ongoing commitment to success,” said Christy Reavis, Manassas Park High School career and technical education chairman.

Community support helped provide $1.3 million in student scholarships and raise $15,000 during the Cougar Literacy Run. Proceeds from a 5K run paid for computer tablets and books for the school system.

“Success is the goal for students,” Reavis said. The business partners are “consequential in student success,” she said.

“We can do something really special here at Manassas Park,” McDade said. “I thought today we hit a home run.”