La Mesa Junior High School hosted a “Family Fun Night” with carnival games, a resource fair and counseling workshops to further build their school community and help students’ parents navigate resources for students’ success on Thursday evening.
La Mesa students participated in carnival games run by teachers, a resource fair with local programs to help student success, and family workshops that took place in the school campus library.
“Family Fun Night is really a night for the La Mesa family community to come out and just experience being with their teachers but also giving them resources,” said La Mesa Junior High Principal Kullen Welch. “We’re big on building connections with kids, so that extends outside of the classroom. There’s an education academics side, but also, we care about community … (and) families. We want to get to know the kids at our school that way. If we just did academics that wouldn’t happen.”
Welch hopes Family Fun Night also encourages La Mesa students to look forward to coming to school and learning. Post COVID-19, their attendance rates have been down, and this event hopefully “gets them motivated to want to come,” Welch said.
The resource fair organized by La Mesa’s wellness coordinator Josh Grattan and the school’s social worker Yvette Loredo Del Toro aimed at connecting families with after-school programs at the Santa Clarita Library, Boys and Girls Club, and other resources promoting healthy lifestyles and student success.
La Mesa Junior High also had its own table at the resource fair letting parents know that they offer a food pantry and have a wellness center on campus.
“This community (has) some … socioeconomic challenges in this part of Santa Clarita that may require more resources than other areas … we see it every day. We have a homeless population here that’s probably one of the largest in the district. With that comes a lot of mental health challenges,” said Loredo Del Toro. “We want to make sure we set them up for success by offering them access to these resources and that they know that they exist.”
Loredo Del Toro added that she thinks it’s good practice for schools to be collaborative with local agencies and raise awareness of what is available to them.
Workshops that took place in the school library included: social media and mental health, how to support your child at home, and preparing for high school and secondary options.
La Mesa has a student population of over 1,000 students in seventh and eighth grade, according to Welch.
Airianne Rassekhi, a seventh-grade life science teacher at La Mesa, said she hopes attendees see “the community come out, all ages from every different walk of life and just the perseverance of our kids. I couldn’t be more proud of our kiddos.”
She was supervising a table where her students were selling succulents and bracelets to raise funds for a statewide science competition taking place early next year.
Other activities that took place were performances and a bake sale. There were food trucks for attendees to purchase food, and food donated by the local church that uses the campus on weekends.