Eastern and the Barry School team up again

Eastern University and the Barry School have been working together for about twelve years. Each November, a Thanksgiving buffet dinner is held to celebrate the partnership and to dream up new projects and events in which students from both schools can participate.

This year, on November 17, Eastern and Barry School faculty, students and administration shared a meal of stuffed shells, roast beef, chicken, potatoes and vegetables. For dessert was a scrumptious cheesecake, chocolate cake and apple cake topped with caramel.

The Eastern/Barry partnership began when Roberta Hestenes, then president of Eastern, told the departments to get involved in the city. Nancy Thomas and Bill Yerger have been involved from the beginning, as has Helen Loeb, who works behind the scenes with budget issues.

“Nancy’s the brains, and I’m the legs. She thinks it and I run it,” Yerger said about the partnership. Eastern and the Barry School collaborate on activities every October, summer and April.

The evening was kicked off with introductions from everyone and stories of their appreciation for Eastern students and their partnership with the Barry School.

“I’m amazed that you have us here, honoring us, when we should be honoring you,” Barry School first-grade teacher Patricia Collier said.

Carol Capella, a first grade teacher at the Barry School, appreciates Eastern students because, “it’s always nice to see some folks with energy to pump you up again.”

Marcy Kaufman, who has been at the Barry School for fourteen years, said that her students look forward to having Eastern students visit and ask every day when Mr. or Miss so-and-so are coming.

“To be a part of their lives is remarkable,” Darlene Beasley, principal of the Barry School, said.

However, the Barry School students aren’t the only ones who benefit.

Frank Kawtoski, professor of education at Eastern, requires his students to do field experience, especially at the Barry School. He wants to see his students invest in the Barry School students because of “the models [Barry School students] get and the growth from knowing they can be like you.”

The summer camp program is highly respected for the role it plays in the lives of everyone involved.

Alfreda Moore, a secretary at Barry School, has helped out with the Eastern/Barry School summer camps since they began in 1996. “You see in the classroom one side of the children. There’s another side of the children you don’t see in the classroom. In the summer, there was such support. No teasing, no picking on each other,” Moore said. “They come [to Eastern] and they want to come back. They want more. They just want more.”

“I’m one of the kids sometimes in the summer,” Yerger said about playing basketball with the kids during summer camp.

Sophomore Nick O’Ryon watched over the guys’ hall this summer. “[My favorite part was] just seeing dreams start to build, and seeing the moments that change them for the rest of their lives,” O’Ryon said. “I just love those kids. I’m going to jump at every chance I have to be a part of their lives.”

After introductions, Andy Horvath presented principal Darlene Beasley with a check for $572.86 and twenty boxes of books from the Scholastic book fair a few weeks ago. The book fair was put together by senior Laura Curtis. The books donated were from a “wish list” at the fair; and students were encouraged to buy books off the list and put them into a donation box. The money was 40 percent of the proceeds that came from the book fair. Also, Tom Dahlstrom donated an additional 20-30 boxes of books to the Barry School.

Next, everyone broke into groups and began dreaming up new collaborations between the two schools.

One common suggestion was to institute a nutrition/hygiene program, because both are very important issues for Barry School children. Having a drama program was also a widely mentioned proposal.

Other proposals included a mentoring program for fifth grade Barry School students, bussing Barry School boys to Eastern for a basketball game, an after school drama program, a student newspaper, peer mediation and a workshop for teachers for special education.

Seventh/eighth grade Barry School teacher Wendy Vandenburg thought it would be a great idea for Barry School students to shadow a college student for a day.

Another interesting idea was to hold a yearly spring fling/fair, complete with physical activities like aerobics, basketball and swimming.

School pride activities will cause the children to behave better because then they get to experience new things, Kaufman said. “They take ownership. ‘This is my school.'”

“We want our children to be critical thinkers, to think outside of the box,” Kaufman said. “Not everything is black or white. How great a feeling it is for children to find their own way, wherever that is.”

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