Pali holds off-site back to school night

Caleb Crain, News Editor

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Pali hit the road on Sept. 20 to stage an off-site Back to School Night at First African Methodist Episcopal church near downtown. More than 55 people attended the event that was designed to serve parents of students who live outside of the school’s traditional sending area, according to Executive Director and Principal Pamela Magee.  

Campus Unification Director Gio Stewart said that the event was made in order to “bring families into the fold.” He specifically planned this event so he could “engage those parents who wouldn’t have been able to be here due to traffic conditions.”

The event featured administrators, Stewart and representatives from the College Center as well as some teachers who volunteered to participate.  

Director of Development Mike Rawson said that Pali chose this location because “last year we had around 615 families that lived within the perimeter of the church.” He added, “We really felt there was a large congregation of people that we could reach by going there.”

Rawson said that school officials tried to have similar events in other locales, but “we just couldn’t find a place that wasn’t going to charge us thousands of dollars.”

Rawson said that transportation was a major issue that parents brought up, but some parents had questions about the upcoming College Fair, set for Oct. 8, school technology services. “Understanding the facts and why things are being done the way they are doesn’t solve the problem, but at least eliminates a lot of the misinformation,” Rawson said.

Stewart added that “parents just want information, you know, about college and infinite campus and Schoology.”

Specifically, the program included Stewart, who had the group do ice breakers and his “Hello” activity. He was followed by Director of Student Achievement Monica Iannessa, who was discussing “what’s happening in the classroom, talking about our equity study, how the PLCs or pods work, and our math success task force,” Stewart said.

Director of Operations Don Parcell also was on hand. He described Pali’s security features and bus transportation, a topic of great interest among parents. Rawson was spoke about his job as Director of Development and how fundraising is important to pay for extracurricular programs and career education.

This event is only part of a larger push by administrators and other school officials to reach out to communities who previously have had trouble participating in school activities because of traffic.

“We continue to work with all of our parent groups and encourage them to have night meetings,”  Magee said. Additionally, the school is trying to host more events at off-campus, satellite locations, which would make it easier for stakeholders who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend. Magee said there are plans to hold Long-Term Strategic Planning meetings off-campus “at least once a semester to make sure that we’re hearing from a broad group of parents” and having parent tours take place at night.

However, Magee acknowledges the limitations that these efforts have. For example, few teachers attended the Sept. 20 event, and when it comes to offering tours outside of school hours, the school “won’t have open classrooms, but we are working to have a teacher there from each department.” But for now, the current outreach efforts have to be a start.

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