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NFP organizes annual, school-wide gathering (VIDEO)

In an attempt to facilitate communal relationships within the FCS family, the New Family Partnership (NFP) put on their annual fellowship dinner, Sept. 14. The event was hosted in John’s Incredible Pizza’s Recreation Room and provided a chance for 20 families who are new to FCS to mingle with those that have experience with the school’s administration and different programs.

The event, which ran from 6-9 p.m., began with an introduction from Superintendant Debbie Siebert, who gave a speech welcoming new families and stating some of the school’s basic fundamentals. Afterword, both students and parents were encouraged to enjoy John Incredible’s food and games at no expense.

The gathering was established last year by Parents Serving Together (PST) Co-President Hannah Serimian, in an effort to connect new and established families — the latter being dubbed a “host family.”

“The NFP program began last year out of a desire to help new families at FCS feel welcomed and part of the greater FCS family,” Serimain said. “The NFP welcoming dinner was a great opportunity for the new and existing families to meet and share fellowship. This year we will also be sending out periodic emails to the host families encouraging them to continue contact with the new families. Some suggestions might include invitations to school events such as sports events, school concerts and parent group meetings.”

Each host family was required to sign up prior to the event and was then matched up with a new family according to their student’s grade level. According to Siebert, because the two families have not been previously introduced, the night provided a distinct opportunity to meet and socialize.

“What happens is that we ask for host families and then we get all the new families and assign them to a host family,” Siebert said. “The host family then sends out an email or makes a phone call — some kind of a contact — inviting the new families to this event. But they’ve never seen each other, they don’t know what each other look like or know anything personal about each other. So this event provides a way for me [being the new families] to see you [being the host family]. To look into your eyes and have an opportunity to fellowship around food and get more personal about belonging.”

Kent McCorkle, father of sixth grade student Isabel McCorkle, is new to both the FCS and Fresno community, as he recently moved from the Sacramento area. Because of this, he appreciated the chance to interact with others outside of a school environment.

“It was really good I thought; I had a really good time and got to meet some new people,” McCorkle said. “We’re new to the community, the area and the school, so it was really good to get to meet people and get to hear more about the school outside of the school.”

As a member of a host family, senior Amanda Merzon saw the get-together as a time to see FCS from a new perspective.

“It was great talking to new families because you got to see what a new family thinks of FCS,” Merzon said. “It was really encouraging because you get to see how someone who’s new sees the school as one big community. It’s easy to get caught up in one thing — the high school, the junior high and the elementary school — but at the dinner I realized that someone who’s in elementary basically sees the same overall image as me, a high schooler.”

Whereas other school-sponsored functions are usually more formal — ie. the annual auction — , the NFP kept this event casual purposefully, as to encourage sociability through a relaxed environment.

“Sometimes it feels awkward when you don’t really know anybody and you’re kind of standing around staring at each other. But if you have something to go do together, while you don’t necessarily have to talk to each other, you have a shared experience,” Siebert said. “So for the kids this venue is spectacular: You get a free coupon to go play some games so you can go stand beside somebody and be near them and make a connection that way. It provides an opportunity also for the parents to hang in here [the Recreation Room] and just talk and visit. It’s very informal and low-key … like a party.”

Although the night was primarily focused on integrating new families, Serimain valued it as a chance to serve under the school’s theme.

“Last night was fantastic as we all rarely get time to sit down and break bread together,” Serimian said. “NFP is a great way for existing FCS families to serve. This year we also asked student leadership to help, and their help was wonderful, truly speaking to this years, ‘We are one’ theme. We are all looking forward to a great year together!”

For more news, read the Sept. 8 article
Fresno Area College Night booked for Sept. 14.

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