Patrick Hamilton hosts second-annual Family Fun Night

Published 8:44 am Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Greg Schell teaches the children how to prepare their own afternoon snacks.

Greg Schell teaches the children how to prepare their own afternoon snacks. Submitted photo

Patrick Hamilton students received a crash course in cooking last week.

And in wrestling. And dancing. And woodworking.

The hands-on lessons were part of the school’s Family Fun Night, which was held Thursday night. Around 100 students and their parents came out for the event, in which various volunteers from around the community showed children new skills and activities.

This is only the second year Patrick Hamilton has hosted the event, said Principal Heather Nash.

“It was designed to be a way for students to find activities to enrich their lives after school,” Nash said. “It’s also a way for them to try something out that they can continue to do in middle school or high school.”

Among these activities were dancing, provided by volunteers with the Miss Kathy School of Dance; woodworking, where children built birdhouses with wood delivered by Judd Lumber; and wrestling, which was taught by volunteers with the Dowagiac Police Department.

“We asked community groups to come out, and we got an overwhelming response,” Nash said.

However, the most popular activity among the children was the cooking lessons, provided by Greg Schell, a culinary teacher out of South Bend.

“The whole room smelled like chocolate,” Nash said. “The kids really loved it. I know I would have picked that activity had I had the choice.”

Earlier in the week, the children ranked which activities they wanted to participate in during the evening, as space for each was limited. On Thursday night, they spent a half-hour at their top three choices, rotating throughout the hour and a half event.

The event was originally scheduled for last month; however, the school canceled it due to weather. While many of the organizers still made it out last week, a few were forced to drop out, including the group who originally volunteered to man the wrestling portion of the evening.

“The police station stepped in for us to help with wrestling,” Nash said. “They did such a great job that we’re thinking of inviting them out again next year.”

While the attendance was slightly down from last year, Nash was still pleased by the turnout, she said.

“All the students who were here left very happy,” Nash said. “Everybody was having a wonderful night.”

Next year, the school would like to expand the night even further, Nash said.

“We’re thinking of branching out into more activities,” Nash said. “If there is any community group interested, I want them to contact me.”