Sunday, May 20, 2012

School's Almost Out!

Hot town, summer in the city: I am certain the readers of this blog reflect on their summers as special times during high school. As a child I was fortunate to live at the end of St. Clair Ave. Thus I got to see and hear the band practice up and down Waddell as they marched Waddell from the school to Tenth Street. On days I could not afford or did not choose to pay bus fare to Noble J. Dick bus lines I recall thumbing (otherwise called “bumming” or “hitch-hiking would) a ride to the Park to enjoy a day at the pool. I remember walking to the Stadium to watch the football players working out for the season after they’d returned from camp, and seeing the Honeybears practicing their routines. Some days I would walk up to the Fifth Street School playground or thumb a ride to the Terrace to check out the playground activities. Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer were fun-filled activities that are no longer available.

Times change; kids don’t: Today the young people of Clairton have the same 10 weeks or so off in the summer. But times have changed, opportunities have diminished and the number of wholesome and constructive activities available has been reduced by a large margin. Gone are the wpaying summer jobs in the mill or on the City Parks and Recreation staff have disappeared. Summer jobs to bolster the college fund simply no longer exist. The City does not fund supervision at the playgrounds and the number of playgrounds has been reduced. The pool still offers recreation, and with the building of the Ravensburg Bridge, kids from “the hill” can easily walk to Clairton Park and the pool.

It boils down to economics: In our day nobody seemed to be extremely wealthy nad few were dirt poor. Every family seemed to be middle class with two parents and three and one-half kids. The lawns were green, dads worked and moms for the most part stayed at home. Today, the number of single-parent families has skyrocketed and opportunities for employment are sparse. Those who do not earn a scholarship or receive financial aid will likely not pursue any post-secondary education Summers have become a time to simply “hang out” between the end of one school year and the beginning of another.

A few groups of current and former Clairtonians, nearly all CHS alumni are working to change that. The Clairton Chamber of Commerce, the Reaching the Reachable outreach program, and members of the Clairton History Facebook friends have been working furiously over the past year to provide mentoring for current CHS students, offering real life examples of CHS alumni who have become successful in various fields of endeavor, demonstrating job application and interviewing skills, teaching the ins and outs of obtaining financial aid for post-secondary education, and many other avenues to help current CHS students and grads reverse the cycle of poverty that has gripped many in our hometown. Ted Kay, Terrence Fort, Dr. Pauline Long, Joannie, Jordan, Terry Lancaster, Kathy Grisnik Tachoir, and Dr. Elisabeth Erlich are among the many who have taken the baton to help the youth of our community break the bonds of poverty.

First things first: With the school year about to end and graduation rate high, athletic successes noted, a summer of uncertainty is about to begin. With few recreational outlets many of our children will spend the summer hanging out and doing little that is constructive simply due to lack of opportunities. Minutes of a recent meeting of the group included the following: After a review of the process and template we would use, we identified, discussed and selected the initiatives to implement for Clairton's youth for the summer. Volunteer "Champions" were named to develop action plans/timing, identify local contacts or groups and implement each initiative. Five immediate and three long term initiatives were adopted.

Immediate needs: 1. Field Trips,  2. Swimming Pool Passes, 3. Playground Activities,  4. Movie Nights,  5. Community Day.

Long Term initiatives: 6. S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math Coalition),  7. Computer Training, and  8. Vacation Bible School Schedules.”

Help is needed: None of the above can occur without help and support from CHS Alumni. Our fantastic alumni has stepped forward in the past to help with scholarship and athletic projects for our children. We ask you to do so again. The City of Clairton has committed several hundred dollars as a first step in helping the summer projects and we are asking you to supplement their commitment with your alumni gift. Every person listed above, as well as many other fellow alums are providing their time, money and effort on a volunteer basis helping with field trips and movie nights. Donations are now needed to purchase pool passes for the 2012 summer season.

The Clairton pool policy is to admit free any child under 3 feet tall when accompanied by an adult. Your donations will help purchase pool passes for children whose stature exceeds 36”

 A few donations have already been committed. Send your donation to: Joanie Jordan, 13 Wellington Woods Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15229.

 A little blogging music Maestro: “Be True to Your School” by The Beachboys.

Dr. Forgot

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