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Donegan holds first school opening meet and greet

Donegan ES teachers met at the school AUg. 11, but they didn’t stay there long. They left the school to host students, families and community members at Yosko Park in South Bethlehem. Along the way, staff and faculty met students and parents at their homes to introduce themselves and to get the students and parents excited for the upcoming school year by inviting them to Yosko Park.

Around 10 a.m., Rosa Carides-Hof, Donegan’s Community School Coordinator and her student helper, Jaylina, began setting up for what promised to be an exciting morning in a nearly empty Yosko Park.That changed as students, parents, teachers and community members began pouring into the park closer to 10:15 a.m. The park, which is nestled in South Bethlehem on Atlantic and East Sixth streets, was transformed into an extension of Donegan, complete with a fitness circuit led by youth and by Meddle Movements Training Gym owner Andres Morales, who specializes in working with inner-city youth. The Donegan staff even had a snack stand which provided free goodies for the kids at the park.

By 10:30, attendees were participating in a range of formal and informal events . Some played basketball or tossed a football, some played double dutch and some just congregated under the heavy shade that the tree lined parked offered. Marie McCrae of Bethlehem played basketball with her kids, Nicholas, Hope and Keith. Keith is a rising fifth grader and Nicholas and Hope will be starting middle school in the fall.

Rep. Steve Samuelson, of the 135th Legislative District also attended to the event. Samuelson met with teachers, parents and students. On a sun soaked basketball court, Samuelson and Donegan Developmental Specialist Luis Vasquez discussed the success and the importance community engagement in education.

Later in the morning, on the same basketball court, a fitness circuit for the kids in attendance emerged. The circuit, instructed by Andres Morales, included a dog sled that kids pushed across the basketball courts and free weights that the kids would raise above their heads. Morales explained the importance of engaging students with fitness. He works with urban students to provide fitness and academic coaching for the SATs. Morales said “you can’t have success without hard work and good habits,” a message he conveyed to Donegan students.

After the fitness circuit, students received book bags, which were donated by Costco and were given to the students at no charge. Joseph, a rising fourth grader, was excited to receive his brand new book bag from teacher Floralba Melendez, who has taught at Donegan since 2015.

As the event wound down, building principal Erin Martin-Medina organized everyone in attendance for a group photo. Once the photo was taken, she talked to parents as they exited the park. Her goal was to create a “warm welcome for new families and to get them excited to be part of the Donegan,” and she feels that goal was accomplished on that day.

Rosa Carides-Hof, Hadassah, Jaylina and Floralba Melendez pose for a picture while working the book bag table where students receive free book bags at Yosko Park.