By Tina Jenkins Bell
BAPA School Liaison
We made it through! Another school year successfully completed with a pandemic twist. Thinking of this school year, I realize the African proverb “it takes a Village to raise a child” is also true for communities with successful schools. Beverly/Morgan Park schools faced trough odds this past school year.
Some schools chose to open their doors for in-person and remote learning options. Others commenced with remote learning and later transitioned to hybrid with remote options. Whatever the case, the leaders and educators at our Beverly/Morgan Park schools “did the darned the thing” (my vernacular for doing something well). Our educators succeeded with training, perseverance, dedication, and collaborations with families, neighbors and community organizations, like BAPA. They emptied the room of “can’t” and “no” and moved forward. The reward was visible, tangible.
End of Year Ceremonies Return
Because of their determination and devotion to their students, we saw most schools host in-person graduation and luncheon ceremonies. Yes, there was social distancing and easy access to hand sanitizer stations, but there was also an abundance of joy and pride as families cheered their children and teachers poetically presented ribbons, certificates and diplomas. There was singing, eating, and posing for photographs. There were strobes of appreciation in students’ eyes that comes from knowing the challenges and being grateful for victorious ends.
Congratulations Community Service Winners
An annual event from BAPA and the Public Education Committee began about three years ago and continued through the thick of the pandemic. BAPA’s Community Service Awards recognizes one student per public school for their community service. This year, we had six awardees: Braylen Boyd, Morgan Park High School Academic Center; Alunya Cotton, Kellogg School; Logan Killelea, Sutherland School; Xoie Alston, Vanderpoel Humanities Academy; Kaleb Tolliver, Barnard School; and Kemari Peavy, Esmond School.
From feeding people without homes and passing out care packages to neighbors, to creating and selling multi-colored crayons to help families whose children battled cancer, these students clearly understand progress requires we all pitch in.
The Beverly Improvement Association (BIA) also awarded community service awards to Journie Beal at Kellogg School and Aidan Alving at Christ the King School.
School Is Out… Now What?
Older youth may be looking for something to do during the summer, and they may find an answer in BAPA’s Teen Service Corps. Youth ages 13 to 18 who are a part of the Corps get monthly volunteer opportunity announcements. They plan special events and workshops. Last year, the Corps sponsored a toiletry drive to support the efforts of the Turpin Cares/19th Ward Mutual Aid/BAPA Free Store. The Job Readiness Workshop for Teens was also a Corps brainchild.
This summer, the Teen Service Corps will meet twice monthly in July and August to discuss community service initiatives and youth workshops. For more details, contact me at email@example.com.
BAPA Offers Service-Learning Opportunities
Akin to community service outreach are service-learning projects that combine academics with a response to a need or solution to a problem. In the area of service-learning initiatives, BAPA has two alternatives. The first is community litter and pollution control using the Litterati app (www.litterati.org). Litterati empowers individuals to positively impact their immediate environment by archiving and sharing where litter is prevalent and what type of litter is prominent. With the help of the Litterati app, the intel from a clean-up can be used to convince the city to provide more garbage cans in a certain area or to converse about environmentally friendly options with a particular business that’s responsible for discarded debris.
The second is BAPA’s Monarch Butterfly Project. This initiative entices Monarch Butterflies, major pollinators, back to our community by creating and maintaining the habitats that provide food and places to reproduce for the Monarchs and other pollinators.
Need a service-learning project? Consider one of these. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Classroom Inspiration for Young Minds
Last school year, Sutherland’s first grade instructor Christine O’Laughlin involved her students in the Monarch Butterfly initiative as a part of One Small Voice, a focus on working together and building community.
“The natural flow of conversation and learning about caring for our earth led right to one of our own outdoor classrooms – Sutherland’s Pollinator Garden,” O’Laughlin said. O’Laughlin’s first graders planted milkweed (donated by BAPA), hatched 10 butterflies to boost the pollinator population, and created awareness posters. O’Laughlin plans to continue the program in the coming school year.
Ridge Run Summer Training
The Ridge Run is returning Sat., Sept. 4. Interested young runners can use the summer to train and/or start running or school teams. For a Race to Ridge Run10-Week 5K Youth Training Program packet, email me at email@example.com.