By Jennifer L. Warren
POUGHKEEPSIE – Rob Rolison referred to it as a “great, great moment, where everyone can all be together.”
The City of Poughkeepsie Mayor was smiling big and animated as he addressed the excited crowd gathered on a picture perfect spring day in the center of the Poughkeepsie High School’s Football Field Saturday. Here families in the District enjoyed a wide variety of offerings from community vendors, including critical information on services, a complimentary lunch as well as entertainment, including dancing and a performance by the Poughkeepsie High School Cheerleaders. The inaugural event, Parent and Community Engagement Festival, “Elevating Families to Support Student Success,” was hosted by the Department of Community Schools and the Poughkeepsie School District. The merger is an integral partnership, placing the school at the epicenter of the City being able to thrive.
“When I think of Poughkeepsie, I think of a lot of great things,” continued Rolison. “Today, it’s all about family and schools and how important and wonderful they are.”
Pieces of those community puzzles could be found all over the football field. Whether it was the Poughkeepsie High School Cheerleading team, covered with radiant smiles and exuberant cheer, performing, vendors passionately delivering information on some of the many, expansive community services or young children engaging in a fun, outdoor activity, all came together for one sole purpose: The success of community and schools.
“Every success comes from the schools in any community,” said Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson. “In every town-city what really makes a huge difference is its school district, and things are really changing here in Poughkeepsie since Superintendent, Dr. Eric Rosser took over; the focus is truly on the children.
A host of vendors, including Dutchess County SPCA, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Family Services, Hudson River Housing Inc, Poughkeepsie Youth Softball League, and Dutchess County Community College had booths at the event supporting the needs of those youth as well as the adults who support them. Coming together, while showing community spirit, the schools and community showed how optimum benefits for all involved can ensue.
“We are here today to spread awareness about our after-school programs, such as After the Bell for younger children as well as TRAC (Teen Resource Activity Center) for teenagers,” explained Curtiz Simpson, Family Services Youth Service Coordinator. “These programs are both free, providing homework help as well as a meal.”
One of the many families who was happy to have come out on this gorgeous, sunny day to engage with other families, learn about community resources, and simply be together with others in a positive, uplifting setting were the Gomezes.
“I got the email from the District about this event, so I decided to take my two children, ages 5 and 6,” said Luis Gomez of the City of Poughkeepsie. “It has been really, really nice so far with wonderful vendors, and the kids really enjoyed playing in the bouncy house and are looking forward to the food.”
Also among the political dignitaries was Senator Sue Serino, who pretty much summed up the day’s message in her brief address, “Today is all about families.”