Fort Loudoun Middle School kept its doors open after school hours Thursday for its second annual Winter Wonderland Showcase.
Though the showcase is based off the school’s quarterly parent-teacher conferences, activity booths lined the halls, with students and teachers ready to guide participants in various activities, like making beaded bracelets or creating paper snowflakes. The school band put on a concert halfway through the evening.
The goal is to allow both students and parents to engage with the school in a new way.
“We did a lot of activities last school year and we combined them, so there’s lots of fun games and activities for kids, and parents come to meet with teachers, see things that students are doing,” Patrick Bethel, FLMS principal, said. “For example, tonight, because we just finished testing for the semester, there’s mock tests, so parents can come in and try their luck with some of that and see what their kids are doing and what’s being asked of them, see what their kids scored and how they were and how they compare. It kind of gives them a different perspective of what school was when we were in school versus now. There’s lot of activities, so it’s kind of a community night. It doesn’t just have to be kids that are from here.”
While parents perused classrooms to talk with teachers, they were also able to enjoy chili and hot chocolate. Children could participate in games and meet Santa.
The showcase allows the school to get acquainted with families, which can be important in the future, especially if the student has younger siblings.
“We try to do a lot of things with our community, but it’s good to see younger siblings that are at the elementary school and will be here shortly, and then former students who have younger students who go here or at the elementary school,” Bethel said. “Then for parents to feel comfortable to come in here and talk with us whenever they want to because that’s why we’re here.”
Each nine weeks during a parent-teacher conference, the school puts on a showcase, often with a theme. In the past, FLMS has hosted a science night, a math night, a social studies night and a “finish line” night, symbolizing the end of the school year.
The showcase provides a unique opportunity for parents to get an in-depth look at what their children are working on in class, which can help when children struggle with assignments.
“A lot of our parents will say, ‘I can’t do the math with my child’,” Heather Watson, FLMS English Language Learner teacher, said. “‘Can you help my child because it’s new math or it’s common core math?’ or, ‘We didn’t learn it that way when we were in school,’ so we want to show them some different ways so that when their child comes home and their child is explaining to them what the concept is, they have an idea.”
The showcase is also an effort to break the stigma on parent-teacher conferences.
“We have some fun activities, we have some food, feeding the body, feeding the mind, but also we want to break down barriers,” Watson said. “The school is a school, yes, but it’s also a place where we want everybody to come to. We don’t want anybody to be afraid or think the only time they come up here is when something’s bad. It’s just something I think schools struggle with, so we want to make it a happy place so people can come visit their children or their grandchildren whenever they want to.”