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View from Vis: Visitation School Parents' Association: All Are Welcome
Throughout the year, Visitation's Parents' Association is committed to two main purposes: strengthening the parent community and strengthening the connection between parents and the school. Its goals are to build community, promote Salesian fellowship, and encourage parent involvement and inclusion. The PA achieves these goals by hosting nearly two dozen events – from coffee in the parking lot on the first day of school and Lower School Spring Showcase to 8th grade Mother-Daughter Tea, the Father-Daughter Dance, the Lower School Advent Concert and events in each division. To see a full list of PA events, visit their website.
"Our hope is to provide activities where parents can connect with each other so that the school has a smaller, more intimate feeling and where families feel engaged with one another," said Parents' Association Liaison Vickey Dudley. "We also create an atmosphere where parents can engage in activities with their children in a relaxed setting, allowing them to be together and simply enjoy the moment."
All Visitation parents are automatically members of the Parents' Association. "We know – and statistics show – that a school does better and kids do better when parents are involved in the life of a school," said Mary Kenkel, who has served as Visitation's PA president for the past two years. "We see Parents' Association as an important part of making that happen."
To that end, the Parents' Association invites all parents to get involved – either as volunteers or as event attendees or both. "We have 24 annual events and activities that we host. We need parents to volunteer to be part of those events by leading them or volunteering – and we encourage parents to attend," Mary added. "All are welcome."
Vis Dads is another important part of Parents' Association. Vis Dads creates opportunities for fathers and male guardians to get involved at Visitation on a low-commitment, high-impact basis. They support many events on campus, including Merrie Market clean-up and the annual poinsettia delivery. Vis Dads hosts several social events for dads throughout the year, and they sponsor the Vis Dads' breakfast for Lower and Middle School fathers and students.
When it comes to the Parents' Association, families may get involved as much or as little as their schedules permit. Parents may show up for a one-hour volunteer slot or coordinate an entire event. They might serve as class representatives, or they might serve lemonade at graduation or Grandparents' Day. (Click here to become a volunteer.)
"You can be heavily involved – or if that's just not where you are – that's okay too." Whether parents participate in or chair events, Vickey added, "we welcome everyone's time and talents."
Regardless of the amount of time parents commit to PA activities, there is one thing parent volunteers have in common: dedication. "These parents, regardless of the degree to which they are involved or lead, are profoundly dedicated to Visitation – to their kids' experience here, to strengthening the parent community," said Mary Kenkel. "It sounds like a bumper sticker, but it's true. These are parents who understand that an hour or month – or twenty hours a month – whatever they can give, is a way to create that fabric of community."
The Parents' Association does many things to weave that fabric, including age-specific and division-specific activities on a regular basis and a class representative program that helps connect new families to seasoned parents who can serve as Vis ambassadors, answering questions and making families feel more welcome.
"As a PA, we are always working to improve our outreach and our offerings," Mary noted. "We want to meet the needs of all parents and continue to be more and more inclusive."
Like Mary and Vickey, the Parents' Association president-elect, Angie Commers, also extends an invitation to all parents: "I invite you to come join the PA! Look on the Vis website for upcoming events, speak with your class reps or give one of us a call. The more that the parents are involved, the stronger and better our school is."