West rally falls short in boy’s game

Published 8:19 pm Friday, April 1, 2005

By By RANDI K. PICKLEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - With the sound of colorful animated dinosaurs, the rustle of popcorn bags, and occasional "oohs" and "ahs" from a group of pre-schoolers, Northside School's "My Guy and Me" event was off to a great start Thursday night.
This annual event featured an animated movie, bags of popcorn, chips, and bottles of water. Pre-schoolers were asked to invite a "guy" to watch the film with them and be their escort for the evening.
Upon arriving at the school, children and their "guys" posed for photos which were developed and placed in a magnetic frame while they watched the movie. At the end of the evening, they received the framed photo plus a grab bag filled with small surprises.
Becky Hamm, a volunteer and part of the parent committee, said, "We wanted the kids to have a little keepsake to take home."
Area companies donated the grab bag items which ranged from car wash certificates to free coupons for ice cream or hotdogs to Beanie Babies.
Kathy Emmons, deputy director of Headstart and pre-school coordinator at Northside, was pleased with the turn out. "We had over 132 children, dads, uncles, and cousins sign up this year," she said. "It was our first one last year and we had a huge turn out. This year is even larger," Emmons said. Last year's turn out was around 100.
In fact, the program is expanding so rapidly and has been so successful that a "My Gal and Me" night is planned for May 5 this year. Mom's grandmas, aunts, etc. will be included in that program.
One of the children, Tahj Anderson, four years old, who attended the event Thursday night, was accompanied by his uncle, Yeremiah House. House said, "I used to go to school here. My teacher was Miss Wilson. But we didn't watch movies like this."
Sponsored by Headstart and manned by volunteers from Northside's Parent Policy Committee, the "My Guy and Me" program was designed to allow quality time between a child and an important male role model in their life.
The school asked a ticket price for the event in the form of a small item to send to the 542nd Transportation Company out of Kingsbury, Ind., who are stationed in Iraq. This past year the school sponsored other projects at Christmas and Valentine's Day which sent cards and small gifts to the soldiers. "We received pens, gum, envelopes and writing tablets, even cereal and Oreo's," Emmons said.
According to Emmons, both the students and the soldiers look forward to the projects. "We like keeping in touch and keeping them in our thoughts," she said.
One of the members of the Parent Policy Committee has a connection to military unit. Gina Schimmel, whose husband was attached to Company 542 and was activated in 1999 when the troop first headed for Iraq, is home now. "He was with the unit four years and still has friends there. We get emails from a particular friend of his in the unit," she said. That friend is the contact for the projects, passing on the letters and gifts from the students to the soldiers.
The Parent Policy Committee is elected by the Headstart parents. Each person fills out a biographical form as part of the nomination process. The field usually includes eight to ten parents who then run for election. The parents in the school vote for the final five who become the committee.
The committee's purpose is to oversee projects, approve grant appeals and other decision making needs.
With such an active support group, the school is able to do creative projects and involve more parents in their children's education.
Judging by Thursday night's crowd of happy children, it's working.
Asking the question as sung by Elton John, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?". the answer at Northside School is a resounding "Yes".