Spaghetti Feast Brings Parents To School

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Denny Harger/Roundup

More than 230 parents and students attended a spaghetti dinner last week at Rim Country Middle School. The purpose of the event was to get parents more involved in their children’s education.

More than 230 parents and kids brought food donations for the poor and crowded into Rim Country Middle School’s free spaghetti feast last week.

Parents with students in tow talked to teachers, signed up for workshops, buttonholed administrators and connected with the school during the two-hour dinner. The school’s choir sang Christmas carols and Principal Gary Witherspoon shook hands and spoke with parents.

Each visitor brought a can of food, which was donated to the Saint Vincent DePaul food bank.

Gina Castano, family/community engagement coordinator for the Rim Country Community Involvement team, organized the event “to help build a partnership between families, school, and community.”

“It is your school, let’s build it together,” Castano told the crowd in her short, opening talk.

The purpose of the event was to get parents more involved. Research shows that students with parents involved in their education often achieve higher outcomes. Harvard researcher William H. Jeynes combined the results from 77 studies involving more than 300,000 students and proved that parental involvement programs work, and students’ academic achievement scores rise substantially when their parents were highly involved in their education. The analysis showed that one-on-one parental involvement with reading and setting high expectations does the most good, but attendance at school functions also has a measurable impact.

That sort of vital parental involvement was on happy display at the dinner as teachers, parents, students and administrators mingled over heaping portions of spaghetti.

The Payson High School culinary arts class created batches of spaghetti and lasagna.

Parents had the opportunity to sign up for three computer workshops designed to improve family involvement and Internet safety for children.

One workshop, Computer Basics, is “for anyone who has not grown up using a computer and now needs to acquire knowledge to keep up with those teenage techno savvys in their home.”

A second workshop focuses on Cyber Bullying to help parents understand laws and issues surrounding harassment, bullying and cyber-intimidation while also providing assistance to victims who seek it.

A third workshop will help parents figure out how to track their child’s progress before report cards come out. Edline and e-mail can keep parents in touch with teachers to see the missing assignments.

To find out more about these workshops or to sign up, call Gina Castano at (928) 474-4511.

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