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POUGHKEEPSIE – Children played games, got temporary tattoos and jumped around in bounce houses while parents learned about programs, services and resources available to them during Saturday’s second annual Bridge 2 Poughkeepsie event.
Designed to introduce families new to Poughkeepsie or just the district to all that is offered directly by the district or through its many community partners, the event featured two bounce houses, a DJ, tattoo artist, bubble table and tables from 28 community-based organizations and several from the district. There was also food, popcorn and refreshments.
Every child attending also received a backpack filled with school supplies and books, courtesy of the Marist Liberty Partnership and Staples.
Event coordinator Julie Maserjian, who works in the Community Schools department, said it took about four months to pull the event together.
“Everything is free for the families,” she said.
According to Natasha Cherry, executive director of community schools, about 450 new families registered children for school this year. About 350 attended the event.
“This is like a new family orientation where we talk about the district and let them know about all the programs, services and resources they can take advantage of,” Cherry said, adding that the Early Learning Center had the largest concentration of new families, likely because of the expanded full-day pre-kindergarten program.
Luis Maces graduated from Poughkeepsie High School in 2016 and attended the event with his nephew, Dylan Alonzo, and Alonzo’s grandmother, Irene Garcia.
“They just started a new dual language program and that is something I didn’t have. It is a pretty good program for him because it is bilingual so he has a better experience learning,” Maces said.
Alonzo enjoyed playing a ring toss game at the dual language program booth but was more excited about getting to the bounce house across the field.
Sabrina Brown spent time coloring a butterfly at one of the booths. She said her favorite colors are blue, pink and purple. She even held up a necklace with a sand-filled charm in those colors.
“My dad helped me make it,” she said, pointing to Everton Brown who was standing behind her.
For Melodie and Kamal Minus, the day was exciting as it was their chance to introduce Mack Minus to school
“Mack is very ready to learn,” Melodie Minus said, adding, “I’m very excited to see what projects they get into and how Mack learns.”
Community partners at the event included: Dutchess County Department of Community and Family Services, Sun River Health, Community Action/Dress for Success, Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse, Poughkeepsie Public Library District, Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health, Vassar College, Marist College Community, Literacy Connections, Grace Smith House, Fidelis Care, The Art Effect, Crime Victims Safety and Support, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, The Growing STEMZ Foundation Feelings and Music Productions, The Boys and Girls Club of Newburgh, Hudson River Housing, Catholic Charities/Archdiocese of New York, Dutchess County Progessive Action Alliance, City of Poughkeepsie Youth Baseball Softball League, City of Poughkeepsie Flag Football, Community Tai Chi, JROTC, Dr. Ben Innate Chiropractic, Public Policy Education Fund, Children’s Integrated Center for Success, Rhinebeck Bank, La Voz, City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department, City of Poughkeepsie Police Department and Mayor Rob Rolison.