New Family Center on Campus

New Family Center on Campus

Carlos Rojas works on a computer in the new Family Center. Photo by Jasmin Naranjo.

Parents have long worried about their children’s behavior and grades in school but did not always know where to go or who to see to help their children improve.

That will no longer be the case for Fremont High School parents thanks to the new Family Center that opened in Room 1124, the former home of the Den.

The Family Center came about because of a father and mother’s interest in making Fremont a friendly environment where parents could express their concerns about the school without feeling overwhelmed. They won’t  have to spend a lot of time looking around the school to find who they want to talk to, or even having to wait a long time to talk to them once they were found.

That father is Carlos Rojas, whose daughter is a Fremont student. Rojas said he realized there was little communication between parents and the school when he used to work with Fremont students through the YMCA. He also said he himself was not always able to express his concerns due to not being able to find the right person to talk to.

Sergio Yañez, a parent who volunteers at the Family Center, said that he met Rojas when he came to the school to get a document that he needed. Rojas was the one who helped him find the person he needed to get that document. Since then, Yanez has been motivated to help other parents.

Principal Daniel Hurst is enthusiastic about the Family Center.

“It has given parents a place to go to have meetings and get organized,” said Hurst.

The Family Center is a place where parents can have meetings, but it is also a place where parents can get to know each other and have a good time, Rojas explained. The hours for the Family Center are flexible so that parents can visit when they are able to.

For example, the first family meetings were held on Sept. 20, one meeting in the morning and another in the afternoon. All together 54 parents attended the meetings. There will also be “Coffee Meetings” the first Tuesday of each month at 9 a.m. These meetings will provide a time when parents have coffee and talk with Hurst of new ideas or concerns about the school. There will also be meetings the second Wednesday at 9:45 a.m and 5 p.m to inform parents of anything happening in the school.

Rojas, who now works with the extended day partner organization Alternatives in Action, is also working to make the campus a safer place. He has helped convince the school to fix the cameras, and he is recruiting parents to get together and supervise the school campus to prevent students from skipping class and getting into fights.

During the first two weeks of school, Rojas and a few other parents walked around the cafeteria, asking students if they had eaten lunch. Most students said “no,” and when asked if they were hungry, they answered “yes,” but said they would rather not eat the school lunch that is provided. Due to the answers given by the students, Rojas is now working on ways he can convince students to eat in the cafeteria.

Parents who visit the Family Center can also use the computers there for personal reasons if they ever need them.

Anita Smiley, a teacher volunteer in the Family Center, said that she was working on an online site where parents will be able to check in on school changes and events.

“Parents who don’t have time to go to the Family Center can now go to the Internet site and find any information regarding the Family Center’s activities,” Smiley said.

The Family Center is not only open to parents who want to volunteer, but to students who also wish to volunteer with their free time. The Family Center organizers are looking for students who would like to improve their computer skills while helping parents learn how to use the Internet.

Rojas said he is very enthusiastic about the changes that the Family Center will bring to Fremont and is looking forward to meet as many parents as possible.

“I can tell that things are different now at Fremont,” said Rojas in Spanish. “It feels like a new atmosphere.”

“We are now helping parents find out what they need to know in order to help their students,” he continued, “Hopefully, then, all parents will work together to make Fremont a comfortable place where other parents are not afraid to ask questions.”