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Hillpoint Elementary rewards engagement

A Suffolk elementary school is rewarding students for remaining engaged during this difficult school year.

Hillpoint Elementary School had a special surprise for those who participated in its monthly Family Engagement Night. Thanks to the overwhelmingly generous donations from the Suffolk community to the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office’s Helping Hands Toy Drive in December, the school had extra toys to give away as raffle prizes.

Every month, the Title I Team at Hillpoint Elementary hosts a night to help parents stay involved virtually instead of the usual in-person PTA meetings.

“This is for parents, so we can keep everyone connected even though the students are still online and disconnected,” said Caren Bueshi from Hillpoint Elementary. “We are always looking for ways to engage parents and with books to keep the students reading and learning.”

Bueshi is part of the Title I Team with Renee Russell and Sarah Mohr. This team works with family engagement as well as other aspects of the Title I federal program.

On Jan. 21, the team held the engagement night over Zoom, as they have been since COVID-19 has kept the students learning remotely. At this meeting, special guest Kimber Pennington, a Scholastic representative, showed parents Scholastic Book Flix. This is a free reading resource online through the school that pairs interactive fictional video storybooks with related nonfiction ebooks.

“We always try to have some sort of reading theme for these engagement nights,” said Bueshi.

At the end, all the names of those who attended were put on a wheel to spin for prizes. Five parents won to come to pick out prizes with their students. The first-place prize was a 100-book library from Scholastic.

Kids from the winning families could choose not only from books but also from toys left over from the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office’s toy drive as an extra incentive to remain engaged. Toys included bicycles, dolls and toy cars.

“The toys help as an incentive during this disjointed time,” said Bueshi. “The Sheriff’s Office is so good to do the toy drive at Walmart and really support us.”