May 22, 2018 --
In one corner of the gym, students were playing a rousing game of Hedbanz with a Heights High senior running the show.
At another table, the parents of entering kindergartners were meeting with Family Connections liaison Chrissy Zoldak to learn about what to expect in kindergarten.
In the middle of the floor, social worker Karen Allen was leading a Book Walk, similar to the Cake Walk that’s a staple of carnivals across the country but instead of winning a cake, students could select a book for summer reading.
And along the back wall, there were representatives from Cain Park, Lake Erie Ink
and Adventure Summer Camps all ready to share their summer programming with interested parents and kids. Additional organizations like Reaching Heights, the Heights Libraries and Cleveland Food Bank were also on hand.
This was Boulevard Elementary’s first ever Resource Fair, an event that combined their usual Literacy and STEM Night activities with additional information about all of the resources available to families, all in a carnival-like atmosphere.
Boulevard’s counselor Betsy Race explained that she and Ms. Allen “have been doing intense work with the American Public Health Association
and are always trying to find more ways to connect families to the many community resources available to them.”
When the staff decided to move their annual Literacy and STEM Night to later in the school year, Ms. Race and Ms. Allen saw a perfect opportunity. “I think the coolest thing about this is the blending of literacy and STEM and the chance for parents to see what resources are out there, especially as they head into summer.”
Building literacy lead Joy Curry, who planned the six literacy activities, agreed. “We really tried to include all members of the school community this year. We wanted to catch parents early so they’re ready for the next school year.”
“We want parents to see that reading is not just about sitting down with a book. It can be playing a board game or following directions for a recipe. You can play Minute to Win It games and squeeze it in even when you’re busy.”
STEM Coordinator Jackie Taylor was also present, having organized the six STEM activities for students to engage in with their family members. Boulevard recently received an official designation as a STEM School
by the Ohio Department of Education.
“We want these kinds of learning experiences to be something the whole family can participate in,” said Ms. Taylor. “And we want them to be fun!”
The students definitely seemed to be having fun and were especially excited to visit the stations that were run by members of Joshua Luton’s Boys to Men program at the high school. Currently the Heights High Dean of Students, Mr. Luton was returning to his roots, as he’s previously worked at both Boulevard and Roxboro Middle School. He explained that “one of the tenants of the Boys to Men group is volunteering. I want these young men to show selflessness, to serve and to be leaders.”
Heights High senior Brandon Harris, who grew up in California, was doing all of those things. And having fun in the process. “It feels good,” he said of his task as the Hedbanz guru, with students clamoring around him to be the next one to guess the words posted on their headband. “I didn't have this when I was in elementary school. It makes me feel like a role model.”
“This is a good meshing of people,” said Ms. Race looking around as building principal Michael Jenkins handed out cookies to hungry students, parents gathered brochures for options to keep their children busy during the summer, and siblings and friends had fun while learning.