SCHOOLS: PARKADE ELEMENTARY
By SARA JOHNSON
Parkade Elementary is hosting its annual Celebrate the Dream Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, at Columbia College’s Delaney Hall. The luncheon is the final event of the Celebrate the Dream program.
The Celebrate the Dream program began in 1995 when its founders received survey results that showed their students were not being exposed to African-American role models in Columbia.
Parkade’s fifth-grade students in the program are matched up with African-American mentors from the community. Founder Sky Jimenez spends six weeks working with the students on social skills such as interviewing and manners before they begin the shadowing experiences.
In the two hours they spend with their mentor, one of the things the students must do is perform an interview including questions about what classes their mentors took that they find useful in their jobs. This shows the students that the subjects they are learning in school build skills they will use later in life.
After spending time with their mentors the students go back to the school and give an oral report about what they’ve learned from shadowing their mentors.
Jimenez said there are four main goals of this program: honoring the contributions that African-Americans make to the Columbia community; connecting students with African-American role models in Columbia; teaching children and giving them time to practice social skills and manners; and exposing the students to an array of career choices.
There are mentors from a variety of professions, including doctors, veterinarians, police officers, fire fighters and hair stylists. The students are not matched with their mentors based on what they aspire to become when they grow up; the program wants the children to have an open mind and learn about jobs they may not have heard of before.
This is the Celebrate the Dream program’s 17th year, and many of the volunteer mentors have been involved from the beginning.
“If you do it once and you come to that luncheon once, you will be hooked,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez said the program always considers new volunteers, anyone interested can contact her for more information.