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Parent involvement, extracurricular activities key for student success



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River Trail Middle School students wait for the school bus at the Regency community on their first day after summer vacation, from left: Gabrielle Woodman, sixth grade, Jasmyn Davis, seventh grade, Jaime Diasselliss, seventh grade, Mindy Kim, seventh grade and Hannah Sim, sixth grade. ALDO NAHED/Staff. (click for larger version)
August 15, 2012
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. It was back to school on Aug. 13 as Fulton County Schools opened their doors, traffic backed up and nerves ran high.

At Abbotts Hill Elementary School, parents are welcomed for a Sneak Peek each year so that parents and students can familiarize themselves with the details of the upcoming year before the first day.

This year, the Sneak Peek took place on Thursday, Aug. 9. Families were able to locate classrooms, meet teachers, learn about afterschool activities and find out about PTA initiatives.

"It's wonderful to see the students as well as the parents coming back to school excited and ready to start," said Dr. Roytunda Stabler, principal of Abbotts Hill Elementary School in Johns Creek. "When some of those matters are taken care of ahead of time, it makes it a little bit easier because it takes that worry off of them."

It is Stabler's hope that this parent involvement will continue well into the school year. She says Abbotts Hill already enjoys a high level of participation from families as well as the community.

"We encourage our children by seeing everyone working together, and I think that's important," Stabler said.

Abbotts Hill offers many extracurricular activities that are driven by parent volunteers. The school's activities include chess, dance, piano, art, drama, robotics and technology.

"We have a lot of opportunities for our children, and we cannot make those opportunities possible if we do not have the support of our parents," Stabler said.

Stabler, who has been at the school since it first opened in 2000, feels that involvement in afterschool programs is equally important for students as a way to extend their artistic abilities.

In addition, some programs even support reading and math initiatives.

"They're fun activities, but they also help our children with critical thinking [and] it builds in social skills" Stabler said. "So [parents] being involved in so many capacities is very helpful to help our children to enjoy learning and have fun learning."

Outside of these activities, Stabler also provided a list of tips for parents who want to ensure their kids are well prepared for each school day. These include establishing routines, helping students get organized, ensuring they eat a proper breakfast and providing a quiet workspace at home.

Stabler also recommended providing a specific location where students can place their items to bring to school each day to make sure nothing is left behind.

At the end of the day, Stabler's main concern is the success of each student.

"I want the children to feel good about coming to school and ready to learn because we will do anything that we can to help them be successful," Stabler said. "Most importantly, I want the students to do their personal best."

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