PMEF supports Family Fun Nights to ease transition for newly arrived students, families  

Thanks to a $750 Venture Grant, Penn Manor has been able to connect immigrant families with services available through the school district and community organizations during Family Fun Nights.

The first Family Fun Night brought together 48 students and family members for a dinner of pizza at the high school cafeteria and a presentation by Sandra Alvarez of the Spanish American Civic Association.

She talked about adult ESL classes, job training programs and other services available through SACA, and participants enjoyed a spirited session of bingo, with prizes.

The second Family Fun Night, held April 6, targeted Penn Manor students from Guatemala and their families. Nearly 80 people enjoyed authentic Guatemalan food cooked by a student’s family.

Spanish-speaking representatives were on hand from CASA of Lancaster, which provides ESL classes, vocational training, financial counseling, citizenship classes and other services to support immigrants and working class residents.

Penn Manor social workers also were on hand to assist with any questions about school district services.

The third Family Fun Night, planned for May 11, will include dinner and a trip to the gymnasium to cheer on the Penn Manor boys’ volleyball team.

Wendy Letavic, Penn Manor’s English Language Development specialist, said Family Fun Nights provide a welcoming environment for students and families adjusting to a new environment and help strengthen the ties between Penn Manor and its families.

“We have definitely noticed a sense of community at these events, and this has made the connection between school and home stronger as a result,” said Letavic, who applied for the Venture Grant.

“Together, we are making a positive impact on these students and their families.”

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