Special day encourages parent involvement at Northdale Middle School

by Peter Bodley
Managing Editor

A National African American Parent Involvement Day event took place at Northdale Middle School Feb. 13, a family friendly activity whose goal was to encourage parent involvement in the school.

Organizers of Northdale Middle School’s African American Parent Involvement Day included, left to right, Peace Mitchell, Northdale student learning advocate; Dwight Tole, parent volunteer; and Jenni Jones, eighth-grade student support and guidance.

A planning committee comprising Northdale staff and parent volunteers put together a program that included dinner, information booths, student performers, storytelling for the younger children and a guest speaker.

According to Northdale Principal Laurie Jacklitch, this is the fourth year National African American Parent Involvement Day has been recognized at Northdale.

“The purpose is to encourage parents to be involved in their child’s work and activities at school,” Jacklitch said.

Parent involvement has been shown to boost student performance at school and the achievement gap for African American students at Northdale has narrowed since the parent involvement day program started, she said.

Invitations were sent to 169 people for the Feb. 13 event.

But the 1,200-strong student body at Northdale includes a lot of ethnic groups, Jacklitch said.

“We are a melting pot of ethnicity,” she said

The goals is to bring families into the school, according to Peace Mitchell, Northdale’s student learning advocate.

“Community building makes them feel part of the school,” Mitchell said.

Students like their parents to be involved in their school activities and it is positive for their education, said Jenni Jones, who provides support and guidance to eighth-graders at Northdale.

And when parents are involved in the school, “they feel more comfortable about the school,” she said.

Children need the presence of their parents more than their presents, according to Jones.

Guest speaker Marcus Hill earned a four-year degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and is now playing basketball for an NBA feeder team.

Hill’s message to students was the importance of a college education to a student’s future, dealing with peer pressure and having a set of faith and values.

“A college education is very, very key to your future, not just a high school education,” Hill said.

According to Hill, it’s also important for students to listen to their teachers “because they do know what they are talking about.”

And he praised parents for showing up to the event Feb. 13 and for being involved in their child’s life.

“They look up to you whether you know it or not,” Hill said. “They want your attention.”

Hill’s parents have supported him throughout his education and still do today in what he does, he said.

“They have my back,” Hill said. “My whole experience has been great.”

According to Hill, students will still be subject to peer pressure in college.

“Make sure the people you hang around with and associate with are good people, and have the same kind of goals that you do and want you to succeed,” Hill said.

The evening included student performers in a student showcase.

Students involved included Malaysia Keller, Lena Wilson, Juliet Fatunbi and Lydia Tumaini, young women’s group; Monte Singleton, poem; Adrianna Richards, student reflection; Michael and D’Andre Demps, piano/drum duet; Taelynn and Teaonna Wade; poem; Maddie Lambert and Savannah Meyer, song duet; Dalia Donato and Zakiya Robertson, reading a Langston Hughes poem; and Tea Jackson-Strong, Abby Bergeron and Selma Demirovich, poem.

Also performing were a young men’s group and boys’ break dancers comprising Eldridge Joyce, Kumsa Ahmed, Deshawn Jones, Joel Sagbo, Emmanuel Nwachi, Antione Jenkins, Wayne Doe, Vedeste Shirambere and Katoya and Kakuru Kalliste.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com