SMART IS COOL. Orange County Supt. Barbara Jenkins speaks at the opening General Session.
SMART IS COOL. Orange County Supt. Barbara Jenkins speaks at the opening session. photo/Chasity Maynard

Orange County families filled the campus Saturday morning for the Parent Academy. The event promotes “student success, parent growth, provides vital information and offers opportunities for connections to school and community resources.”

This Academy had the largest attendance on record, with 827 parents and students, plus volunteers and exhibitors.

“[The Parent Academy] will prepare parents to understand and help their children to become better students,” Assistant Principal Carlota Iglesias said.

The academy rotates between focuses and Orange County schools each year. Boone hosted the Parent Academy with a “STEMtastic: Create and Innovate” focus. Orange County staff and partners volunteered to lead courses about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and  Math) for parents branching from online sites or apps, to hands-on labs, to information on Orange County magnet programs and specials needs assistance.

“I took a workshop on IEPs because my oldest daughter has one. It gave me information on resources I need to help her advance,” Orange County parent Windi Kemplin said.

Youth Academy, an interactive daycare program for ages four to 18, provided parents the option to drop off children in the 100 building while they attended STEM sessions elsewhere on campus. The daycare provided kids entertainment and education via a variety of activities. Mary Perkins, an Orange County art teacher, offered children’s face painting, while kids age 10-13 examined cow hearts to view anatomy first-hand. Guest speakers from NASA explored space topics with six to nine-year olds. Kids ages four and five attended coloring sessions.

The Parent Academy also hosted the OCPS District SECME (Science, Engineering, Communication, Mathematics and Enrichment) Competition. The competition offered five challenges: the banner, poster, mousetrap car, water rocket and essay competitions. Pre-organized student groups created their competing items ahead of time.

Judges tested mousetrap cars for distance in the gym starting at 9:30 a.m., and water rockets launched in the football field starting at 10:45 a.m. At the 12:30 p.m. awards ceremony all students received a medal for competing and winners from each competition were announced.

Parent Academy workers challenged each Orange County school to have the highest attendance. Boone High School came in first place for attendance, Conway Elementary in second and Lakeville Elementary in third.

The Parent Academy lasted from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., classes spanning in the media center, 100 building, 1300 building and both cafeterias. In addition to the classes, attendees received free breakfast and lunch.

The next Parent Academy will occur at Apopka High School on March 11. The event will focus on “Many Directions, Many Choices: Creating a Path to College and Career Readiness.”

By Chasity Maynard

Howdy, I’m Chasity, reference editor. In addition to journalistic writing, I love music, running, dancing, and poetry. I am the lead trumpet player in my ensemble and a lifeguard, as well. I juggle my busy schedule with a mild chocolate addiction and an awful habit of spewing bad puns. I live by this quote: “Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

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