Oakton principal Churchill Daniels behind students Joran Ray, Eric Mitchell, Oakton parent Steven Capiz and Adrianna Capiz and Myterrrion Irving.

As the calendar inches toward the first day of school, Oakton Principal Churchill Daniels has been easing the way for families to meet or become reacquainted by holding a series of cookouts in parks in south Evanston.

“It’s a way to build community,” said Mr. Daniels. “We’re coming into the families’ neighborhoods and strengthening the relationships.”

He grilled hotdogs, chatted with students and parents and distributed backpacks to those who could use them. Each backpack contained notebooks, folders, crayons, pencils, a sharpener, a ruler and scissors – “enough to get them started and make them feel supported,” Mr. Daniels said.

The families and students appeared to be happy with the food, the, company, the supplies and the school itself.

Nicole Miller, parent of third-grader Carly Stevenson, said their family likes Oakton. “It’s nice to have the school in the neighborhood.”

Steven Capiz, who attended the picnic with his third-grade daughter, Adrianna, said, “The teachers and staff are extraordinary. They are some of the best educators I’ve ever met.”

Stan Azeem and Regina Miller described the after-school media-broadcasting program they plan to offer at Oakton in the fall. “We’ll start with sports broadcasting and include public speaking, reading and writing,” said Mr. Azeem.

Oakton has an enrollment of 410 students in three separate education strands – the Two-Way Immersion program, the African-Centered Curriculum and general education. The first day of school is Aug. 24.